I live and work on the Hebridean island of Great Bernera, having moved to the islands in 1990. Basketmaking came into my life in 1999 and soon became a passion that has brought me to my own business, and the delight of passing on this addiction to others in workshops around the islands and on mainland Britain. I am very interested in the baskets people used here in the past and have learnt to make Hebridean style creels and the round curved baskets that were used by the women cleaning herring at Stornoway Harbour at the time of the herring industry. I am currently involved with a Vernacular Basketry Project for Scotland with the Scottish Basketmakers Circle.
I have been taught and inspired by many basketmakers along the way, both here on the islands and on the mainland. But like any skill it takes lots and lots of practice to learn the ways of the willow and to develop the sense of how to create form both in traditional basket designs and in my more sculptural work.
Large willow sculptures have come into my working life twice. In 2006 I worked for two weeks with Patrick Dougherty at the Brahan estate near Dingwall, on a sculpture based on the Callanish stones. In 2010 I worked for a week with Serena de la Hay on a willow woman sculpture at the Castle green, Stornoway for the Hebridean Celtic Festival.
Growing willow has become another passion and I currently grow around 56 varieties on the croft where I live. I use this for my own baskets along with willow grown by others on the islands. Seeing the willow growing from cuttings to weaving it into baskets and sculptures is a very satisfying and nourishing process.