Mary Butcher

I am a willow specialist, learning local, traditional wok from apprenticed makers. I increased my repertoire and researched basket history, a little recorded subject. Widening contacts, with both UK and overseas basketmakers, including an important meeting with Hisako Sekijima in the mid 1990’s, during an Art School Fellowship in Manchester, gave freedom to explore creative possibilities, and generated other ways of making. Curation of major exhibitions, in particular the touring ‘East Weaves West: Basketry from Japan and Britain’, with joint public activities and collaborations, were designed to widen our extending network of friends and colleagues and introduce a wider public to basketmaking in all its forms. I have an exciting life: large installations, basketry drawings, smaller scale work, teaching both traditional and contemporary work, curating, writing and talking are all part of the mix and give me a welcome freedom of expression and a lot of pleasure.

Involvement in the Contemporary Maker Engagement Project is exciting in a number of ways. It feels as if it will bring together many strands of my working life, both as Zoologist and basketmaker with a taste of the academic as well. I always enjoy collaboration, even when it involves diplomacy, so hope the so far un-named others selected and I will enjoy the talk and stimulus of each other’s company. As yet I don’t know their fields of work or means of expression so there is much of interest in the near future! I have always thought fish traps things of beauty and here they are preserved in anaerobic conditions on Bronze Age sites from various bits of Europe, including that wonderful collection at Must Farm near Peterborough. And their use is associated with sophisticated knowledge of animal behaviour, another strand of a former life. They have been a basis for my work several times and may well be again. But I am also intrigued by the jewellery, not that I use precious metals myself with any skills at all, but the strength of the twisted gold and the decoration and forms of the bracelets in the British Museum ask for responses. We will all see what CinBA brings in the next twelve months.