Joe Hogan is a master basket-maker based in Loch Na Fooey, a glacial lake situated in the Republic of Ireland. Joe uses local willow, as well as local larch, catkins and bog wood to construct woven sculptures and baskets, showcasing his deep understanding of material and place.
Moving to Loch Na Fooey in 1978, Joe trained with numerous Irish basket makers, learning techniques rarely seen in the modern day. Joe Hogan’s work is internationally recognised, and has been shortlisted for the Loewe Craft Prize in 2018.
Joe Hogan is a master basket-maker based in Loch Na Fooey, a glacial lake situated in Ireland. Joe uses local willow, as well as local larch, catkins and bogwood to construct woven sculptures and baskets, showcasing his deep understanding between material and place. Moving to Loch Na Fooey in 1978, Joe trained with numerous Irish basket makers, learning techniques rarely seen in the modern day. Joe Hogan’s work is internationally recognised, and has been shortlisted for the Loewe Craft Prize in 2018.
Joe Hogan grows his own willow, working with over 20 different varieties, harvesting annually from late November to mid-March. The willow is then dried and soaked in a process taking up to 18 days before becoming pliable and weaveable. Joe has spent 40 years making functional baskets; he applies this in-depth knowledge of traditional weaving practices and special techniques learnt from the indigenous baskets of Ireland to the sculptural work produced for The New Craftsmen.
1. What motivates you to make?
I make the work I do because it expresses (in a way that I do not fully understand) some aspect of what it personally means to be in the world. When the work is going well, I feel that the form or shape I am making becomes itself without much conscious effort from me. But most importantly, I enjoy the process of making baskets.
2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?
I am most inspired by the natural world and am fortunate to live in a very beautiful part of Ireland – my surroundings are a constant source of creativity for me. Lately I have been making pods with local stones which might have lichen markings or some other interesting feature.
The poet and novelist Rainer Maria Rilke wrote about the ‘temporary, perishable earth’ and believed we should aim to collect the ‘honey of the visible to store it in the great hive of the invisible’. I like nature writing, especially when, as in the case of Robert Mac Farlane, it helps us to see the world with more observant eyes. Some other favourite poets include Seamus Heaney, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry, Eamon Grennan, Denise Leverotov and Anne Michaels.
3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?
I’ve spent decades making baskets and my techniques come from the world of functional basket-making, particularly the special weaves which I learnt from the indigenous baskets of Ireland.
This has given me a good grounding practice and I utilise traditional techniques, such as the donkey-creel or pannier of upside down, which involves the base being finished last and allows me to use driftwood and bogwood collars on my baskets. I was drawn to basket-making because willow growing provided an opportunity to live rurally and develop a real understanding for a particular place. Over the last forty years, I have found it a very satisfying occupation. You learn to be patient, to work in the present moment and to not prejudge the outcome.
4. What is your definition or proudest moment as a maker so far?
I have had, I feel, a good deal of recognition for my work. I have been short-listed for the Loewe Craft Prize and won the overall award of excellence at the RDS National Craft Awards in Ireland. Such awards and recognition are nice but ultimately, the freedom to be able to make the work I want to make means most to me. This includes the fact that others buy it, thereby allowing me to continue working.
5. What is your dream project?
I am in the fortunate position of making the work I am drawn to, so I find I enjoy every aspect. It is also nice to be able to respond to the seasons. In February and early March we harvest our own willow. I will usually harvest some birch twigs in early spring, and then catkinned willow in early-to-late March, depending on the mildness of the season. This autumn I harvested some really long, old, growths of heather from a cliff-face where there had been no grazing for years and they became the framework for large heather nests.
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