We are fast approaching the end of 2022 and what a year it has been, here in our little house in South Ronaldsay.
In amongst all of the renovations, getting our vegetable garden started and learning together, I have somehow managed to make lots of baskets over the past twelve months. I have learned a lot, both by constantly striving to improve my techniques and also in discovering more about myself as a maker.
For me, I think 2022 is best summed up by the piece that I entered for the Annual Open Exhibition, at The Pier Arts Centre, in Stromness. “Tideline Treasures” was the progression of my tiny Phormium Tenax baskets made back in the spring and my experiments with cocooning limpet shells in little baskets.
Protecting the discarded homes of coastal creatures and the broken pieces of pottery and glass found on our daily walks in this way, seems to echo the work that we are trying to do here – by bringing our old farmhouse back to life. In fact, I find that spending time in these old walls has had an enormous influence on my work, this year.
This wonderful collection of old buildings have so much history, so much character, that it becomes increasingly important to us, to make a respectful renovation. Restoring wherever we can, replacing only when absolutely necessary. Celebrating the strength of stone and wood that has stood up to the Orkney weather for so many years. Finding peace and beauty in the simple spaces and materials.
I want to honour these found treasures in the same way – adding a little of my own work, to strengthen and protect, but not taking anything away from the simple beauty that is already there.
I love the sustainability of these pieces too. Making use of what is already there and combining it with locally gathered plants, prepared in small batches, without waste. It’s important to me that my work reflects the simple life that we are striving for.
Looking forward to 2023, I am excited about the possibilities and the work that is to come. Even though the short, cold days of winter are generally a time of low energy for me, I feel raring to go and my mind is full of thoughts and ideas for my basketry over the coming months.
I learnt a lot this year about the limitations of my current working space. Spending a huge amount of time and energy trying to gather large quantities of plant materials through spring and summer, just doesn’t work for me. Instead I will continue to gather small quantities of what is available seasonally. Not only does it work well for the limited space that we have during renovations, but I also enjoy the gentle, seasonal rhythm that working in this way brings.
Working with these materials and found things has helped me to feel rooted in our new home. I feel like my work is a collaboration, or perhaps a conversation, with my environment. Would I produce the same work if I were living somewhere other than these beautiful islands? No, I don’t think so. For me, my latest work says so much about my experiences of living here.
Enjoy your winter celebrations and my best wishes to you and your families for the new year. xx