Susan Pettman is a willow grower and basketmaker. Her interest in willow combines a desire to practically support skilled heritage crafts and ‘hands-on’ making as an antithesis to the loss of natural materials and processes. Cumbria basketmaker Phil Bradley fostered Susan’s enthusiasm, on the Isle of Lewis she learnt skills passed down from some of the last surviving Scottish creel makers to a present day crofter, have learnt Irish creel-making from Yeoman basket maker Linda Lemieux and the spiral Périgord form from French ‘vannerie’ Karen Gossart and Corentin Laval.
‘Baskets must surely be among the first beautiful and useful objects ever made by our ancestors. The transformation from pliable stems to rigid woven structures is almost magical. The more I learn the more in tune I feel with people adept in the same methods 8,000 years ago’.
At home in Allithwaite near Cartmel, with her husband Ian, they grow fine basket-making willow in a range of varieties, 1600 plants in total, cultivated and harvested without fertilizers, pesticides or power tools. The willow is harvested in winter and dried for months before it is ready to resoak and weave. Everything for C-Art will be made from the 2015 crop of willow grown here at Sprint Mill or at home.
Susan has exhibited at Farfield Mill in Sedburgh, at Tanacetum in Knaresborough, Rydal Hall, at the Beach House Gallery, Grange Over Sands, and here at Sprint Mill.