Ruby Taylor: artist/maker, teacher

Ruby Taylor

Artist/maker: My practice, working with plant fibres and clay, is concerned with origins and connection, with the beauty of natural materials and an immersion in the sensory experience of making. I’m fascinated by vessel forms and the space they hold within. I’m in my element with the challenge of working outdoors with foraged materials. My work is also informed by having lived and worked in remote areas of Sudan and Ethiopia, and by extended periods of silent contemplative practice close to nature. A recent body of work, exhibited in London and Brighton, is vessels from wild clay and plant fibres.

wakehurst place sculptureRecent commissions include a 6metre-high installation for Wakehurst (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew) in their newly opened woodland (see left). I was also Artist in Residence at Wakehurst in 2014 as part of their Meadows Festival.
Current and recent work includes staff training at Stonehenge, for English Heritage (in Neolithic basket-making); staff training for Historic England; a community project for the Charleston Trust (home of the Bloomsbury Group), and the Pitt Rivers Museum VERVE project (which links their collection with contemporary practice).  Other recent commissions include Neolithic-style pots for the Education Collection at Brighton Museum.

I’m inspired and challenged by making in nature using natural materials, foraged from woods, hedgerows and the land. My practice satisfies the compulsion to create through working with my hands and brings a sense of peace and connection. It’s important to me to experience the whole cycle of production: harvesting materials in a sustainable way, processing them and finally creating a useful and aesthetically pleasing object.

wild pottery Ruby Taylor

Teacher: I’m a trained teacher, with over 20 years’ experience, appreciated for my ability to teach the techniques of basketry and pottery with clarity, patience and humour. My courses have a relaxed and inclusive atmosphere.  From both formal training and my own experimentation with foraged materials, I have a breadth and depth of knowledge and experience. This includes an interest in the origins and history of basketry and ceramics. I am DBS checked.

I enjoy providing a supportive space in which others can develop their creativity and technical knowledge as well as their connection with the natural world. It’s great to witness the sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes from making a basket or pot this way. I’m also inspired by seeing how people can feel deeply nourished and inspired by the whole experience of taking time out of an often busy and stressful daily life to be creative in the woods round a fire, with birdsong, creatures, wild plants and like-minded people.

With a BA Hons in 3-Dimensional Craft (majoring in ceramics), I subsequently trained as an Art & Design teacher and taught at secondary school level. I later developed my work with a Diploma in the Therapeutic Application of the Arts and went on to receive formal basketry training in London and with a number of local basketmakers. Since 2009, as a team member of East Sussex Archaeology and Museums Partnership, I’ve been teaching ancient craft & technology to all ages, and constructing prehistoric-style dwellings.

I’m grateful for traditional wisdom and knowledge, and for those I have learned from -and continue to learn from- along the way.

 Photo credits: Curtis James (top); Jim Holden (centre)