baskets in the woods

I have just spent two joyful days making bramble baskets in new leafed woodland near Heathfield, East Sussex, facilitated by Ruby Taylor of Native Hands.

The gentle supportive tone and pace of the weekend was set as we were invited to make the short walk into our camp in the woods, silently and to turn off our mobile phones. Each day we joined in the lighting of a campfire, blowing gently to ignite a small spark held in a dry grass bundle to which twigs, sticks and small split logs were added. It became the centre of  warmth, support and mindful making.

For our material, we gathered and stripped  brambles; a small wall basket with a handle the aim.   Each technical step was taught with care and clarity by Ruby.  We shared food at lunch times and punctuated our days with plentiful tea and flapjacks. Baskets finished, but not yet trimmed as bramble shrinks, we gathered with joyful surprise at our efforts.

As we contemplated our  return to busy-ness, Ruby read The Peace of Wild Things by Wendell Berry to complete a quite beautiful weekend.

“When despair grows in me
and I wake in the night at the least sound
in fear of what my life and my children’s lives may be,
I go and lie down where the wood drake
rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds.
I come into the peace of wild things
who do not tax their lives with forethought
of grief. I come into the presence of still water.
And I feel above me the day-blind stars
waiting for their light. For a time
I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.” 
Wendell Berry

© susy orton 2019

generous inspiration

Inspiring books have come into my life these past few months; they arrived in various ways but all with generosity and warmth.  I wanted to share them.

The first is by Elizabeth Fisher and Rebecca Fortnum: On Not Knowing: How Artists Think. It’s a chewy book, when slow re-reading and digesting is essential for me. It has chapters like ‘Tactics for Not Knowing’ and ‘Unteachable and Unlearnable’ and ‘Pedagogy of the Not Known’. I am loving it, chewing it and allowing myself to relax a little more into my own puzzles and artistic endeavours.

The second is by Kate Davies: Handywoman.  Paralysed by a stroke at the age of 39, Kate’s world turned upside down. Forced to change direction, she took a radical new creative path. Handywoman is not a book about triumph over adversity, rather it is her account of the ordinary activities and everyday objects that stroke and disability made her see differently. Part memoir, part personal celebration of the power of making, it redefines disability as in itself a form of practical creativity.

© sue orton 2018