Saturday, 14 October 2017
Back in May I attended a craft seminar which culminated in a session of basket weaving. We had to weave a simple platter in willow. This quickly became an intense sensory experience which was strangely similar to my own practise and yet 'other'. I was taught by Hilary Burns who grows and harvests her own willow, her knowledge of which was to me like that of an alchemist.
The colours and behaviour of the types of willow were all known to her and she spoke of them as a living force that she was accustomed too. For me the smell of the willow was mysterious and wild and transporting. It is damp,earthy,mossy and aromatic like incense. You are weaving the wild that is within.
Into my platter I also wove some bramble (like the artist Burne Jones I am very fond of briar) which had been de-thorned by being dragged through a punctured baked bean tin.
It was the moment of starting the weave that fascinated me as it was a moment of impossibility. You need the counter tension of the material to hold the weaving together but it is that quality which fights against you.When you begin you feel that you need three hands to hold it all together.It seems unlikely that you will persuade the base struts to stay in place but once the rhythm takes over and the counter tensions are harnessed a platter emerges.
The wild willow and the wild body, their mystery and the harnessing of their counter forces. The moment of near failure and the joy of using your hands to read and persuade natural materials to move. These are profound experiences for a human. To know courage and creativity changes you.
It wasn't surgery but I bet surgeons would enjoy it.