Lisa Atkin

Lisa Atkin is a contemporary and sculptural basket maker, working both from her studio at Cockpit, and in Epping Forest, near her home in East London. Lisa worked with stained glass for almost 20 years but was introduced to basketry in 2016 and it has altered her path ever since. She studied basketry with the City Lit and was a runner up in the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers Basket of The Year 2020. She then went on to win the Cockpit & Worshipful Company of Basketmakers Award 2021 - 2022. Alongside some of Britain’s finest heritage and contemporary basketmakers, Lisa most recently exhibited in Basketry: Rhythm, Renewal and Reinvention at Ruthin Craft Centre, Wales.

Basket Maker

Lisa Atkin

London

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THE PROCESS

Lisa forages materials from Epping Forest to create her sculptural basketry. She is interested in the evolution of basketry through the history of humanity, using ancient techniques such as whittling, carving, weaving, bending, braiding, twining and coiling, to create contemporary works. Lisa is in constant dialogue with the materials while she works, allowing the work to develop organically.

    

Q&A

1. What motivates you to make?

I have always had a need to physically create with my hands, it’s a huge part of who I am. I can not ever imagine not being able to make. When I came to basketry, I was completely awestruck at just how diverse the medium is. It’s both modern and ancient; our ancestors couldn’t have survived without processing locally available materials for their shelter, trapping, storage and carrying. Basketry has evolved alongside us as our needs have changed over millennia and can be found almost everywhere you look. There is so much freedom of expression to be found and there are endless materials to experiment with - I feel like I am never going to run out of things to make. Living on the edge of East London, where housing butts right up to Epping Forest, I’m often found foraging fallen branches, among the trees near my home, or listening out for the sound of the urban tree surgeon’s chainsaw and liberating some beautiful wood destined to become firewood, or even worse - to be chipped.

2. What and/or who are you most inspired or influenced by?

I’m inspired by the possibilities within materials; the curve of a fallen branch, the intrinsic beauty of some gnarled wood which begs to become a handle or leg for a basket. Materials are everywhere, and the possibilities within them are endless. Basketry is our oldest craft and our oldest technology. Humans have been weaving for thousands of years. I love the deep sense of connection and timelessness that I feel when I settle into the flow state whilst making a piece. Knowing that my hands are echoing the same rhythmical movements that countless ancestors have made before me. I’m currently enjoying making pieces using a braiding technique that is known to be over 7,000 years old - this absolutely thrills me. I’m taking something ancient and giving it my own twist, coming up with pieces that aim to give the viewer a sense of our shared history but also connection to the earth through materiality.

3. What is your unique approach to your craft, and how have you honed your skills?

I’m in constant conversation with the materials, they speak to me and I envision what they want to become. A picture forms in my mind and my hands get to work, whittling, carving, weaving, bending, braiding, twining and coiling. The feedback is immediate - the material will let you know if it doesn’t want to do something, and equally the work organically grows when working in partnership with it. I love to settle into a flow state, where time becomes irrelevant. I love to combine materials and use fallen woods in the forest next to my home to create legs for my baskets to stand on.

4. What is your defining or proudest moment as a maker so far?

Winning The Cockpit Arts & Worshipful Company of Basketmakers Award was a huge boost for me, especially as I am relatively new to basketry, only making my first basket in 2016. Being selected to exhibit with some of the best heritage and contemporary basketmakers in Britain in the recent exhibition at Ruthin Craft Centre was an enormous honour too.

5. What is your dream project?

I don’t have a dream project as such, though I do feel I am living my dream right now. I’m just going with the flow and working with materials that present themselves for transformation through my hands. The scope within the medium of basketry is endless. I hope to continue to create new pieces, learn more old and new weaving techniques and continue to explore the possibilities within them, adding my own energy, essence and expression.

To be kept informed about new collections from Lisa Atkin, please email [email protected]

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  1. Neolithic Braiding on Spalted Hornbeam by Lisa Atkin
    Neolithic Braiding on Spalted Hornbeam
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    7 Products found

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7 Products found