High Cross House Dartington Devon. 2013

Curated by Hilary Burns

Hedging and Ditching
Split and shaved willow and hazel, bailer twine, coir and hemp strings, willow bark crisps and acrylic paint.

Hedgeing and ditching Tim Johnson


This woven wall piece was made especially for this exhibition combines natural and man-made materials and uses as its inspiration the shapes and forms of Devon’s celebrated hedgerows. The upright sticks of hedgerow trees and the rounded forms of stone faced banks gave Tim his starting point of combining rounded ‘willow bark crisps, the patterns created by multiple rows of twining and the contrasting light and dark lines of split and shaved willow sticks. Bailer twine and coir string are perhaps more familiar to the modern farmer and the fisherman of old than to the basketmaker and Tim is happy to include their distinctive colours and textures whilst referencing local rural industry.

Detail of Hedging and Ditching

Detail of Hedging and Ditching



Times of plenty
Willow rods (s.rubra Harrison’s, steamed) and weathered bog pine

Times of plenty Joe Hogan

The healed scar, pod on wild willow
Willow rods (s.purpurea packing twine, steamed) and willow wood

The healed scar Joe Hogan


Although I still make functional baskets and value repetition and the fluency it develops I have, over the past fifteen years or so, become increasingly interested in making non-functional or sculptural baskets. Many of these involve the use of tree holes or interesting marks on the surface of the bark of a tree. I also incorporate finds of bog wood from a wonderful area of wild isolated bog land near where I live. This work is prompted by a desire to develop a deeper connection to the natural world. My concern in this work is to reawaken a sense of wonder.
BirchTwig hat

Birch twig hat Joe Hogan


Five natural fibre looped bags and an adult sock

From left
Soft rush bag, Vetch bag, New Zealand flax bag,  Adult Sock,  Monbretia bag, Iris leaves bag

Fibre bags by Joanne B Kaar

Grass boots

These are full size replicas of the work of Angus McPhee, grass weaver. He lived on South Uist, Scotland, but for 50 years of his life was an inpatient at Craig Dunain psychiatric hospital in Inverness. He chose not to speak, instead he made garments from grass and leaves growing in the hospital grounds, twisting the plants into a rope or simmans, a traditional technique he would have learnt at home as a young crofter. Joyce Laing championed his ‘outsider art’ and Joanne made replica garments for the production of ‘Angus’ by the Horse and Bamboo theatre group.

 Grass boots by Joanne B Kaar


Sussex Scarp
Sweet chestnut, willow, hay, copper

Sussex scarp Annemarie O Sullivan


I make baskets and forms, which are a response to materials I gather from the land. My work draws on the sturdiness of agricultural baskets, the curves of the landscape around me, and a deep respect for ancient crafts.
This work forms part of a set for a traditional game ‘Scarp’ played by the Brighton mummers during the apple harvest. The object of the game is to scrump as many apples from the farmer without being caught. The scarp is worn on the back and provides the vessel for catching apples. The game can be played with balls of hay or real apples. Bruised apples were traditionally turned into cider.

‘Scrumpers pass o’er orchard wall ;
To the warden’s and they fall.
Oo makes em pass back wot they theived ;
Afrom the laden apple tree.
Three small rush baskets: ‘Frail’ ‘Fish’ ‘Fash’

Rush bags Maggi Rogers


These baskets are based on the rush frail, a basket that was used by agricultural workers to carry their lunch to the fields. The rush for these baskets grows in slow flowing rivers and has been harvested from the river Isle in Somerset. Rush combines well with other natural materials as well as reclaimed fabrics and features.
Strandline 7#
Seaweed, driftwood, bark, shell, other found materials and hemp cord

Maggie Smith Strandline


Taking a break from Willow Exploration, in making this piece, I’ve returned to my Strandline Series. I felt it related to the fishing aspect of the festival theme as it represents my harvest from the sea. Most of the materials used were collected during a Strandline walk. I made cord from the seaweed and using this twined the piece with the hemp as a warp, the other materials being used in the assembly of the piece
Swept away Parachute seed Shuttlecock seed

Freeform coiling lets me escape the constraints of traditional coiling, and allows me to explore the potential of forms which can expand into differing planes. The result is exciting surface textures and decoration. Instead of the core of the basket being stitched over, the core is stitched together invisibly. In these three coiled baskets I have taken inspiration from seed pods and their dispersal by the wind.

Swept away coiled pieces by Joan West
Allotment boots
Cordyline and iris leaves, jute string, bark paper and car. Random weave.

Allotment boots Joan West


Toi Tahei
Muka (flax fibre), Teri dye, paua shell, glass

This piece is made from flax fibre extracted by hand using a knife and mussel shell. The tradititonal technique of whatu, or double pair twining forms the base, with glass attachments added. Worn as a necklace to show the collaboration between fibre/glass and contemporary/traditional in a piece that declares it is Maori. Glass work by Te Rongo Kirkwood.

Hua Angiangi
Muka (flax fibre)

Named Hua Angiangi or gentle breeze. The name also connects this piece to Hokiang where the flax was harvested and to the ancestral figurehead of the northern Ngapuhi tribe, Rahiri’s mother, also named Hua Angiangi.
This contemporary shoulder cloak is made with the fibre of the flax which has been extracted by hand using a knife and a mussel shell. In 2010 I came to the UK and viewed many treasured Maori cloaks held in museums that were adorned with this 3-ply attachment known as karure. Hua Angiangi was made to compliment a black dress also adorned with white karure.

Maori necpiece Mandy Sunlight

Meadow,   Willow

The work leads me and stimulates me at the same time. The pieces that I forge create a sense of spaciousness and take on a life of their own. I try to express the complex in as simple a way as possible, the natural materials often having a quiet and still effect on the viewer.

Meadow by Lizzie Farey


Eel trap and Connemara lobster pot made under the tutelage of Joe Hogan

This eel trap is from the area of the river Suir in the south east of Ireland. The baited pots were laid in rows in the tidal area of the river and examined when the tide went out again. This one is based on one made by the Shanahan brothers which was purchased for the National Museum of Ireland collection in the 1960s and is now on display in the National Museum of Country Life in Castlebar, Co Mayo, Ireland.

Irish eel trap


irish pot view from below


This pot is typical of the style used to catch lobsters in the Connemara region of the west of Ireland. These willow pots were widely used until the mid 1970s but have now been replaced by D shaped pots with a base of wooden slats, hoops of rod iron and a net covering. These newer pots are much heavier to haul and carry but since most currachs (wood and skin boats) now have outboard motors the lightness of the willow pot is no longer as important. Most lobster fishermen made their own pots but few would now be sufficiently skilled to do so. The weave is the same as that put on before making the base of a donkey creel and is exceptionally strong.

Connemara lobster pot



This basket is used for storing caught fish on the cormorant fishing boats.
All the local fishing baskets were, until recently, made by Fumio Ishikara who learned the techniques from his father. This knowledge must have been handed down from generation to generation among local makers for 1300 years. A group of us started learning bamboo basketry from him in 2010 in order to keep the tradition alive and to provide baskets for the fishermen. 70% of the time in bamboo basketmaking is spent on the preparation of the splints which have to be made using simple hand tools to an exact width and thickness.

Hake kago Masashi Kutsuwa


Hake kago Masashi Kutsuwa


U-KAGO. On loan from a Japanese fisherman via Masashi Kutsuwa

This basket is for transporting cormorants from their houses to boats. This basket carries two cormorants.
Each fisherman on the Nagara river keeps around twenty cormorants at home. During the fishing season from May to October, each fisherman selects ten to twelve birds every evening and goes fishing by boat with them. On the boat the cormorants are handled by ropes. A fire is lit at the front to attract fish and the cormorants catch them. The fisherman brings the cormorants back to the boat and removes the fish from their throats.
On loan from a fisherman via Masashi Kutsuwa

U-Kago Japanese Cormorant fishing basket

HEN’S NEST  Collection of JOE HOGAN

Material is oaten straw and the method is a type of plait, a technique used in many Irish straw baskets
A traditional hen’s nest was used to provide free range hens with a comfortable place to lay their eggs. This reduced the chances of the hen going off and laying her eggs in a place of her own choosing.
Irish hen's nest


Willow skeins, edges with double crossovers. Sides and the lid are of éclisses sur champ (ribbon like skeins woven flat and very tight)

Made in the district of Origny en Thiérache (Aisne, France) circa 1880-1900
It was used in housekeeping schools or nunneries to hold sewing and knitting

Tierache work collection of Andre Chapuis 3


BOUJOU BASKET  Collection of ANDRE CHAPUIS. Restored by him in 2012
The posts, framework and feet are made of solid willow rods, the body is made of very fine willow skeins worked into a damask motif. The bottom and the lid are of skeins sur champ (ribbon like split willow woven flat to make a dense structure)

Made in the district of Origny en Thiérache (Aisne, France) circa 1900-1920
This basket would have been used by rural people to go to the market or by bourgeoise families for a picnic outing.

Tierache work collection Andre Chapuis


The basket is made of willow, the posts and framework are whole rods
The body is made of damasked skeins. The bottom and lid are made of skeins sur champ (willow split and shaved very thin and woven so that they bed down one above the other)

Made in the district of Origny en Thiérache (Aisne, France) circa 1900-1920
This basket was used as a lunch box for children when they went to school

Tierache Childs basket collection Andre Chapuis


Fishing basket
The posts and framework are whole willow rods, the body and the lid are of skeins sur champ.

I made this basket in my workshop in 2010, it took around 90 to 100 hours. This type of basket would be used by fishermen.

Fishermans creel skeined Andre Chapuis

Fishing creel - back Andre ChapuisFishing creel - base Andre Chapuis


Sicilian ricotta baskets

These baskets, ‘fascedde’ in the local dialect, are made of Juncus maritimus. Dried rushes are soaked for 8 hours to give them the flexibility required for weaving. Wooden forms are used to keep the shape and size regular. Ricotta and cheese were made by the shepherds who tended the sheep all day and brought them home to be milked and penned up for the night. As the number of baskets required every day was high, they were produced by hand in specialist workshops. European Market changes in regulations for the production of dairy products have banned the use of these baskets in favour of plastic ones.

Italian ricotta making baskets



Red Basket
Shellfish collecting basket from chestnut and rattan

Urban harbour fishing chic. The gingham lining and glossy red colourway has the effect of giving this traditionally shaped basket a complete makeover. The result? A simple, individual hybrid reflecting strong undercurrents of tradition in fashion and concepts of the new luxury movement; craftmade-as-quality and durable design.




This pot was made in the late 1950s by my mother. The 100 year old photograph is of the fishermen at Chapmans Pool, a small cove on the Dorset coast where generations of my family have fished commercially. The picture shows the Isle of Wight Prawn pots used in those days being prepared for the start of the prawn season mid August.
Isle of Wight prawn pot


prawn pot men Dorset


BELARUS STRAW HEADDRESS  Collection of Gillian Nott

Described as a head ‘garland’, many beautiful styles of headdresses are created by the nimble fingers of girls in Belarus. There are even ‘straw acadamies’ where the students learn their craft and produce stunning pieces of work, both wearable and highly decorative
Collection: Gillian Nott.

Belarus straw plait headdress


JAPANESE SNOW BOOTS   Collection of Gillian Nott

These colourful Fuka-gutsu (snow boots) are made from woven barley straw. They are designed to keep out moisture and cold when walking in snow.Brought back from Japan by Mr Eric Bransden

Japanese barley straw snow boots


STRAW OVERSHOES  made by Gillian Nott as part of a ‘handling’ set for the Imperial War museum (North)

During World War 11 over 1.6 million straw overshoes were made in the prisoner of war camps and Jewish ghettos. They were intended to be worn over the jackboots of the German army as insulation against the sub-zero temperatures of the Russian winter. The image shows male prisoners at Zossen (Germany) plaiting up straw, with the end of the plait tied to the roof supports in order to keep it under tension.
Plaited straw overshoes


Plaited staw overshoes


PoW straw boots print of postcard


WARAJI RICE STRAW SANDALS  Collection of Gillian Nott

Waraji were some of the most popular straw-made items used by the general public of Japan. Records of waraji have been recorded in documents as old as the Heian period (794 – 1185)
Traditionally the rope material was of rice straw. During the feudal era of Japan, waraji would be worn by the Samurai class and foot soldiers. Waraji only lasted three to four days; distances were measured by the number of pairs required for each journey. Today they are mostly worn by traditional Buddhist monks.

Japanese rice straw sandals


MADU CHILD’S RAINCAPE  South China. Collection Roger Strange

Rainwear goes back into antiquity in China and Japan. Early forms of raincape were made of straw and have been described in many poems and feature in woodcuts. This one from South China is made from the fibres from the trunk of a palm. The interwoven fibres occur naturally and have been laid out and overstitched to make the cape, apron and hat

China child's rain cape

RUSH BOOTS. ITALY. Collection of Geraldine Jones

Made in 1977 by Angelina Dalpozza at Villanove di Bagnacvallo during the annual Rush Festival. The festival aims to recover the traditions of he low-Romagna region. Thanks to L’Associazione Culturale Civita Erbe Palustri, this unique event offers the opportunity to see local craftspeople at work.

.Italian rush boots

TWINED SEED SOWING BASKET.  Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul

Sisal over twigs. Collected in the 1990s. Baskets like this are used for collecting and sowing seeds.
Ethiiopian twined seed sowing basket colleciton of Jenny Balfour Paul
CAMEL MILKING BOWL. OMAN.  Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul
Coiled palm and leather

Karlo (Jebali), Collected in the 1980s in Saeed, Mirbat. Made in Shuwaymiah.
Camel milking basket Oman collection of Jenny Balfour Paul


BASKET WITH LID. SUDAN/DARFUR.  Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul
Coiled palm and red leather

This sort of basket was tied to a camel for transporting goods. Collected 1950s.

Coiled basket with leather and lid collection of Jenny Balfour Paul
Elephant grass, jute, rush and raffia

Worn on the back by women and children for carrying wood, tools, seeds and bananas to the fields. Made by Angelica Ngori in 1987.

Ncock Cameroon basket


‘NASSA’ FISHTRAP. GOZO/MALTA   Collection of Geraldine Jones
Esparto grass, split Mediterranean cane, polyester thread

The technique for making this fishing trap has been used all around the Mediterranean coasts and examples have been recorded in Sicily, Crete, Italy, Malta and Portugal and as far north as Galicia. The maker’s techniques remain the same but the materials shape, size and weight change according to the region and the type of fish being caught. At the front is the netting needle used to make the knots at each intersection.

Nassa from Gozo


Olive wood

The basket uses the the same technique as that for the nassa from Gozo (above)

Josep Mereder fishing absket

HATS. THAILAND. Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul


Bamboo and palm.
bamboo hatPalm leaf and bamboo hat


Bamboo, double walled: different patterns outside and inside.

bamboo hat

DOUBLE WALLED BASKET WITH LID. BHUTAN. Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul

For transporting cooked rice

Bhutan Double skinned lidded basket colleciton of Jenny Balfour Paul



Women make these baskets by stitching down palm fibre with thin strips of palm leaf. Motifs called water snake and chicken’s foot and a chequered pattern are used for decoration. Some are decorated with worsted and silk thread, mother-of-pearl buttons and red leather. Achieving a high standard was a source of satisfaction and pride. The tray was used for chickpeas, peanuts and sweets. The bride’s basket was made to contain bread at a wedding.

Brides basket


Siwa Oasis bassket detail


Siwa Oasis bakset collection of Jenny Balfour Paul


CLOTHES AIRER. YEMEN. Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul

Clothes are draped over the top and a pot of incense placed in the middle to fumigate them; a perfect dry cleaning process and the clothes must smell wonderful afterwards. Incense burner from neighbouring Salalah in Dohar.
Yemeni closthes airere


QUAFAS CHICKEN BASKET. YEMEN. Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul

Hexagonal weave basket made from date palm, bought from the market ‘Beyt al-Faqih in Tihama. Used for transporting chickens to market.

Quafas Chicken basket Yemen


WOMAN’S HAT. HADRAMAUT VALLEY, YEMEN. Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul

Yemeni plaited hat



Plaited palm with cords and tassels.

Morocco Woman's Hat Jenny Balfour Paul collection


CHILD’S RAINCAPE. N.INDIA/ASIA. Collection of Hilary Burns

Angami Naga people. Plaited and woven pandanus leaves. A complex technique, made using a simple loom for tensioning the leading edge.
SOUTHPORT BOAT. ENGLAND. Collection of Hilary Burns

The frame construction of this basket is very old but the special feature of the Southport boat is the ash handle and ‘spelk’ or wide ash strip that runs end to end. The designer was one of the Cobham family of Mawdesley in about 1830 and the originals were made of ‘Dicky Meadows’, a little red variety of willow grown there. The basket was originally designed for carrying butter and eggs but larger and minatures were also made.

‘Bouyricou’ spiral weave basketPhilippe Geurinel – France

Peregourdin or Bouricou by Philippe Geurinel

Millet straw sieve, spiral weave Burkino Faso

Collection of Hilary Burns

Sieve Burkina Faso

Lime bast shoes

St Petersburg, Russia Morocco

Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul

Lime bast plaited shoes Rissia collection of Jenny Balfour Paul
CAMEL MUZZLE. MOROCCO. Collection of Jenny Balfour Paul

Corded palm

Moroccan Camel muzzle collection of Jenny Balfour Paul


Beer straining basket. Natal, South Africa

Southern African twined basket for beer making

Maize collecting basket
Legs of the giraffe’ design. South Africa

Southern African coiled basket legs of the giraffe pattern
SMALL BAMBOO BASKET. JAPAN. Collection of Hilary Burns

To keep small fish for bait alive in the water

Japanese basket to hold small fish


MBUNDA FISH TRAP. ZAMBIA.  Collection of Hilary Burns
Mbunda fish trap Zambia


Zambian fish trap 2