‘Woven Nature’ Workshop – 21st September

I’m delighted, excited and a little daunted to share the news that I will be running a day-long workshop at Gilbert White’s House and Gardens on 21st September 2022.

‘Woven Nature’ inspired by Gilbert White’s House and Garden

This amazing opportunity has come through Sophie Hacker, the ‘artist-in-residence’ at Gilbert White’s this year. Sophie, who I knew through her connection to Winchester Cathedral, saw the wallhangings on my Instagram feed and wanted to know more. Chatting together, she thought they would make a great workshop subject in her ‘residential’ year, because it fits the ethos of Gilbert White’s; using traditional skills, natural fibres, and upcycled/preloved items, but to create something with a contemporary feel. With Sophie’s encouragement it has also been good to explore how my background as priest, amateur naturalist and occasional gardener also fits with Gilbert White’s own story.

I was privileged to spend time with Sophie in recent months as we’ve explored and shared some of our skills and the delights of Gilbert’s Garden, and I will be delighted to have her as my ‘assistant’ during the workshop. Since she first mooted the project, I have been able to develop some visual ideas based on the scenery in and around the Gilbert’s Garden, some of which I’ve shown here. Her initial conversation with me also came at a time when I was starting to explore the use of willow frames for some of my work, and has been the catalyst for me seeking to extend the range of natural fibres I use, including making twine from garden plants including Phormium (New Zealand Flax) and Rhubarb, more of which in a future post.

Rhubarb twine in the rhubarb patch in the vegetable garden at Gilbert White’s House and Garden.

I will be leading the workshop in the wonderful barn of the Gilbert White Field Studies Centre. Participants will learn to weave a simple hoop of willow and be introduced to the basics of the tradition of Dorset Button making. Sophie will also help participants explore Gilbert White’s garden as they develop ideas for a small wall-hanging which they will be able to create during the rest of the day. Materials will be provided, including willow, threads, upcycled items and a variety of natural fibres. Participants are also encouraged to bring along any fabric and yarn scraps, ribbons or old jewellery that might be appropriate. Further details and a booking form are on the Gilbert White’s House and Garden events page.

A wallhanging I created, inspired by the meadows and woodland visible from the lawn in front of Gilbert White’s house, photographed among the old roses of the Six Quarters Garden.

Sophie Hacker works in a wide variety of media including stained glass and has in recent years produced works for Romsey Abbey (The Calling window, a memorial to Florence Nightingale) and Winchester Cathedral (the ‘Water into Wine’ altar frontal in the Epiphany Chapel). She was the first professional to describe me as an artist! I am indebted to her for giving me the confidence to extend my creative and presentation skills in this way, and to the team at Gilbert White’s who will I know make participants as welcome as they have made me. Do come and join us for what I’m sure will be a wonderful day.

If you would like to explore hosting or attending a similar workshop with me, please do get in touch here on my blog, via Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. You can see a video of me creating another of my designs on my YouTube Channel and a limited amount of jewellery is available on my Etsy, with more in the shop at the Sustainability Centre near East Meon. More items will hopefully be made available during the summer. I look forward to meeting you.

Another wallhanging inspired by Gilbert White’s House and Garden: this one features weaving with twine made from the fibres of New Zealand Flax leaves.
Gilbert’s “Pipe Seat” in the meadow: a wallhanging created using the skills of a Dorset Button maker, art-yarn, remnant threads, a pebble, some dried Pear Tree bark, and some New Zealand Flax fibres for the thatch.

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