Crafts Council Designer Resident: Mary Butcher
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.
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.
Sea CreatureWillow. Waxed linen. Willow barkFor 'European Baskets' Irish Crafts Council 2009 - presentPhoto: Roland Paschhoff
Sea Creature Willow. Waxed linen. Willow bark For 'European Baskets' Irish Crafts Council 2009 - present Photo: Roland Paschhoff
Willow Knot NecklaceWillowWhile Artist in Residence, West Dean College2008 Photo Jacqui Hurst
Willow Knot Necklace Willow While Artist in Residence, West Dean College 2008 Photo Jacqui Hurst
Willow Scribble TracingWhite willowCambridge University Botanic Garden 2001Photo: Howard Rice
Willow Scribble Tracing White willow Cambridge University Botanic Garden 2001 Photo: Howard Rice
Ruched Rush BagRush, waxed linen thread2007For The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers to give to their principleguest.Photo: Mike Waterman
Ruched Rush Bag Rush, waxed linen thread 2007 For The Worshipful Company of Basketmakers to give to their principle guest. Photo: Mike Waterman
Sea CreaturePlastic covered wire, waxed linen thread
Sea Creature Plastic covered wire, waxed linen thread, poelute cane 2007 Bought by the South East Arts Craft Collection, Hove Museum and Art Gallery 2008 Photo Jacqui Hurst
Detail:Sea CreatureWillow, waxed linen threadBought by the South East Arts Craft Collection
Detail: Sea Creature Willow, waxed linen thread Bought by the South East Arts Craft Collection, Hove Museum andArt Gallery 2008 Photo: Jacqui Hurst
Natural Line: the LightWillow, waxed linen threadWest Dean Art Gallery and Stroud International Textile Festival 2008
Natural Line: the Light Willow, waxed linen thread West Dean Art Gallery and Stroud International Textile Festival 2008, 2009 Photo: Jacqui Hurst
Bark NetWillow barksFor 'Made to Think' West Dean Gallery2008Photo Jacqui Hurst
Bark Net Willow barks For 'Made to Think' West Dean Gallery 2008 Photo Jacqui Hurst
Birch Bark Bag :silver with hidden goldBirch bark, waxed linen threadFor 'Basketry Carte Blanche'Nationaal Vlechtmuseum
Birch Bark Bag :silver with hidden gold Birch bark, waxed linen thread For 'Basketry Carte Blanche' Nationaal Vlechtmuseum,Netherlands 2003 Photo: Mike Waterman
This residency was sponsored by the Crafts Council.