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Mary Butcher, Craft Council Designer Resident at the V&A, July - December 2009

Mary Butcher, Craft Council Designer Resident at the V&A, July - December 2009

Mary Butcher is an artist basketmaker who uses natural materials, plastics, wire, strings, cardboard strips and paper to make containers and sculptures in a wide variety of scales and forms. She has a strong interest in the transmission of her craft, teaching it widely both in the UK and internationally. Mary was Crafts Council Designer in Residence at the V&A between July and December 2009.

Visit Mary Butcher's residency blog (archived)

Mary Butcher trained with a traditional basketmaker using willow and rush, making functional items for local markets, but a Research Fellowship at Manchester Metropolitan University  alerted Mary to a wealth of new possibilities with a wider range of materials. A solo show at Hove Museum and Art Gallery in 1998 gave her to scope to begin her experimental journey. A request from the jeweller Onno Boekhoudt to fill the Nationaal Vlechtmuseum in the Netherlands gave her a free hand. She used a range of plant materials for installations on a large scale, interweaving Cycad leaves, making small bags, and creating a series of unconventional drawings with a wide variety of materials. Further European and UK shows have followed, each allowing Mary to explore concerns with line and form, reflecting her interest in calligraphy and the nature of the materials themselves.

Special projects have involved working with The Big Issue sellers in Manchester, and children excluded from schools, both primary and secondary. Mary was recently commissioned by Hampton Court Palace to produce a copy of a pair of early 18th-century German baskets held in the V&A.


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This residency was sponsored by the Crafts Council.

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