Resurgence .. November / December 2001  

"Containers of the Countryside"

Extending basketry into
the realm of nature art.

Scottish Basketmaker Lizzie Farey's exquisitely
turned and elemental wood weavings relate to a
world of nature which seems to sit between
some perfectly finished natural process and
the intricate guidance of the maker.

Her willow nests emanate an exterior calm and
presence intertwined with inner spaces full of
action and movement. It's as if a dry wind has
blown along an autumn lane, picked up fragments
of life and rolled the willow balls into being,
depositing each to be found and smoothed by
human agency. Lizzie Farey says she is "working
from the inside out; the forms start in chaos
and move towards stillness." The works are
beautiful, nest-like tangles.
The weaves are usually random, which brings the viewer's eyes closer to nature. They may appear a significant move from traditional basketry, but look at their bases and those age-old traditions are clearly visible at their core. In this sense her work sits
within a wider local Scottish tradition of basketry. Although Farey also makes traditional baskets, it is
her experimental world of willow balls and other
forms which explore the space between land
and nature, art and its older relation, the
basketmaker's craft.
In this her work can be seen as extending
wood-weaving into the realm of nature art. It is
a new art form touched by the remaining wildness
of the Scottish landscape. "There is a close
connection to natural materials here. It may be
the Celtic experience, but there is a natural ease
of relationship between basketmakers and their landscape and its plants," Farey says.Farey's work
also connects to and collects from the secret life
of hedgerows, the ancient, small and mostly
unnoticed treasure-troves of the British landscape.
"Hedgerows created by humans as functional fertile
boundaries become something else as seeds and
plants are blown in and take root there," she relates.
"Also, they provide shelter for animals, birds and
insects. They are woven forms in a random weave
and are containers of the countryside." Of her craft
she says, "It will always come back to the basket."
Yet for Lizzie Farey, the weave's marriage to
sculpture provides an exhilarating freedom and an
opportunity wholly to explore undiscovered forms.