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'Boat baskets' home from Frugtkurve Exhibition

My 'Boat baskets' have recently returned home from the 'Frugtkurve' exhibition in the Frilandmuseet in Maribo on the Danish island of Lolland. While I didn't get over to see this exhibition I'm sure it looked great with such a nice selection of baskets from makers living in Denmark, Spain, France, Uganda and the UK. Curated by Danish basketmaker Jette Mellgren, the exhibition celebrated the fruit growing traditions of the Maribo district.


Klaus Titze, Helle Baslund, Gitte Kjær Hansen, Annemette Hjørnholm and Jette Mellgren from Denmark
Tim Johnson from England
David Drew from France
Carlos Fontales, Lluis Grau and Monica Guilera from Spain
Simone Simons from Spain/Holland
Ester Estang and Tom Obote from Uganda

Some of my words accompanying my baskets in this exhibition:

This trio of  ‘Boat Baskets’ forms part of an ongoing series first developed when I learnt to weave two willow rods in a particular way with a retired fisherman on the Isle of Wight in 2005. Weaving ‘the breed’ holds together cleft willow rods very tightly and through trial and error I have developed this boat like form that I hope is both elegant and functional. These baskets offer me the possibility of combining two aspects of my creative practice – the harvesting and processing of a wide variety of natural materials and the use of colour and contrast that stems from my first artistic passion as a painter.

In this selection we can see cultivated willows and wild materials gathered in Norway, Australia, Spain and on the Isle of Wight. They have been cut and dried; some have been beaten, scraped, combed, spun, cooked or dyed. Developing a closer relationship with specific plants and harvesting places is an enriching experience and I hope some of my enjoyment and satisfaction in their making is transmitted to those who use them.

Tim Johnson. June 2014

Willow – large year old willow rods from my withy bed are cleft three ways and shaved down to my required thickness on a shavehorse, the bark is peeled away and woven back into the baskets. Barks from different species give different textures.

Juniper and Cedar bark are harvested at the right season and contrast textures with the willow bark.

Hair Moss – carefully gathered in Norwegian forests this fine fibre has been used for thousands of years.

Galingale – an uncommon species of rush is beaten and combed.

Soft Rush is processed and spun into cordage.

Date Palm – flower stems and leaflets give very different textures.

King Palm – a giant leaf sheath from this Australian species gives ribbed textures.

Cordyline – an Australian species gathered from my local botanic garden

Below - a selection of 'Boat Baskets' in my solo exhibition 'I am here now', Landscape Works 1993 - 2013 part of the Earagail Arts Festival 2013 in Letterkenny, Co. Donegal, Ireland

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