Maggie Smith

  • Willow 1 ( Middle basket) 2013.jpg Willow 1 ( Middle Basket), 2013. Willow, bark, wood, roots and leaves. Photo credit: Maggie Smith.
  • Willow 1 (Outer basket) 2013.jpg Willow 1 (Outer Basket), 2013. Willow, bark and wood. Photo credit: Maggie Smith.
  • Willow 1 ( Inner basket) 2013.jpg Willow 1 ( Inner Basket), 2013. Williow, bark and wood. Photo credit: Maggie Smith.
  • Memento Series - Piano 1 2015.jpg Piano 1 (Memento Series), 2015. Piano parts, wire, felt and sheet music. Photo credit: Maggie Smith.

What inspires me

In my Willow Exploration Series I have found a way to use every part of the willow in my work, from roots to leaves. Growing, harvesting, processing and experimenting by taking the willow apart have all contributed to the intimate knowledge I have of the material. During the making process I find the piece changes as I problem solve and listen to the material. With each new piece I learn and am inspired on to the next piece.

I find it exciting when a piece looks like several different materials have been used but it is actually willow alone. 

Making in the Midlands

My willow bed, allotment, garden and access to the countryside are very important to my work because this is my main access to my materials.

I live in the town of Northampton and therefore have to travel for most of the above and this travel time takes away from my making time, which is not ideal.

However my location has made me more versatile if anything, and when out and about talking to people it's amazing what opportunities/ materials are available and come my way. I'm a member of the Northamptonshire Guild of Designer Craftsmen and exhibit/sell with them regularly in and around Northamptonshire.

What has changed most about the crafts in the last thirty years

I think an increasing vibrancy about craft and respect for the craftsmanship involved is slowly but surely finding its way forward.

Thirty years ago, my own craft, basketry, still felt like a craft in decline in this country. However in recent years I feel the profile of basketry is on the rise. It isn't only about keeping traditional skills alive but also developing them to keep them relevant today.

Sometimes this is about giving an obsolete technique a new lease of life. Other times it's showing that a piece of craft doesn't have to have function but can have status in its own right for the mastery involved in its making and its beauty.