All of our tutors are experts in their fields. Most have been working with us for many years. Each brings their own distinct style to willow weaving, be it a conventional basket or an abstract piece of art. Our tutors offer a range of different skills and are constantly brimming with fresh ideas.
Mary Butcher MBE
Mary trained with a traditional Basketmaker using willow and then rush, making functional items for local markets. She has travelled the world learning various techniques and has exhibited her work worldwide. She is the artist in residence at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Mary has a strong interest in the transmission of her craft, teaching it widely both in the UK and internationally. Her book “Willow Work” is the bible for those beginning basketry.
“Being a Basketmaker covers a wide range of activity now. I use natural materials, plastics, wire, strings, cardboard strips and paper to make containers and sculptures in a wide variety of scales and forms. The techniques I use are not only those traditionally associated with UK and European basket making practice but ones which originate from across the world.”
Jay has worked with willow for the past 16 years, specialising in site specific weaving. His extensive experience encompasses projects at country cottages and estates to penthouse roof gardens. He has worked with a number of leading garden designers. In recent years, Jay has taken part in Somerset Art weeks and other art groups, producing screens and seating as well as sculptural pieces.
Rachel is an experienced teacher of both adults and children. She has a broad range of willow skills. Organic inspired sculpture with willow/bark and contemporary basketry are Rachel’s passion.
She is a NAFAS qualified area demonstrator and regularly produces work for design/floral magazines. Rachel works all over the country teaching her speciality – utilising willow within contemporary floral sculptures and structures.
Rachel works for museums, councils, hospitals and schools and demonstrates/exhibits at numerous national events.
Sophie has worked in willow for many years and specialises in large-scale sculptures and living willow projects. You may have seen the leaping deer on the A303, (jointly sculpted with Stephan Jennings) and the striking Beast of the Blackdown Hills near Blagdon Hill.
Sophie’s work has been featured in many national publications and gardening magazines. She enjoys teaching children and adults of all abilities. Sophie takes great pleasure in seeing students that have little or no previous experience of willow, taking home a sculpture they have created.
Sarah brings her basket making and contemporary willow artist skills to the team. Sarah produces a comprehensive range of willow baskets and sculptures.
Sarah is happy to teach, demonstrate and give talks on basketry and willow sculpture.
Paul was first attracted to basket making at a craft show back in 1993. On joining the Basketmakers’ Association, Paul attended several courses and eventually became a professional basket maker. Paul started his business with his wife Diane in 2001.
Paul is honoured to be a Yeoman member of the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers.
Commonly referred to as a wicker basket the word wicker is believed to be of Swedish origin, vikker meaning willow and the verb wika to bend or fold.