Annemarie is a basket-maker based in East Sussex, UK; Annemarie mainly works with willow and coppiced wood; she grows about 20 different types of willow for her own basket-making.
How did you begin your career?
It has been a slow progression learning the craft. Initially I learnt how to use a range of materials and over time I began to work predominantly with willow.
What is your favourite part about what you do?
I love the slowness and the rhythm of the whole process, and the fact that every day I’m holding something in my hands that I’ve grown and gathered from the land. It’s a very low impact kind of craft. All you really need is a knife and some sticks, and if you haven’t got a knife you can use your teeth!
How long have you been doing it?
I started weaving 14 years ago.
Did anything in particular inspire you to start your craft?
Seeing the exhibition ‘Contemporary International Basketmaking’ in 1999, curated by Mary Butcher was an eye opener. It totally blew away all ideas about what a basket is supposed to be.
What is the hardest part about what you do?
The work can be very physically demanding, but also it’s wonderful knowing that my work is in such demand.
What makes your craftsmanship most rewarding?
I really love being able to discuss work with clients and being able to envisage where the work will go. From spending time growing and harvesting to making and delivering an item. Knowing how it will be used and who will be using it is the final piece of the jigsaw.
Has your craft evolved into other/new skills over time?
My skill has edged me closer to the gift of patience, it slows me down and often challenges me to readjust my expectations of what I can achieve in a day.
What are the biggest challenges you face in what you do?
Helping people to understand the slowness and the value of my craft, I do feel that I have an audience that are incredibly appreciative and knowledgeable about what I do.
What are the accomplishments within your work in craftsmanship that you are most proud of?
I feel like my work is now selling fairly widely across the world, which isn’t something that I had planned for. Being well known as a craftsperson and being invited to have a voice within the craft world is something I’m delighted to do.
What made you choose this career and to work in this industry?
I feel like it chose me, from the first time I made a basket I couldn’t quite get enough of it. I have such a strong feeling that this is the work that I should be doing and I feel incredibly grateful for the success and opportunities I’ve had.
How does working with QEST support you/your craft?
Qest have been an amazing support, making a significant contribution to my continued learning with master craftswomen/men across Europe.
How would you describe John Smedley?
There is something very attractive about a brand that has been in existence for 200 years, I imagine this would be at least seven generations and this to me is true sustainability.