About SalixArts and it's founder: Debbie Hall
Salix Arts was founded by Debbie Hall, who has been working with willow since 1995, and has been teaching at all levels of ability for the last 8 years. She is a board member of the Basketmakers Association.
A descendent of stonemasons, tailors and smiths, Debbie has always produced things with her hands, taking much enjoyment from making her own toys and clothes as a child.
She completed her BA in Fine Art at Leeds University in 1990 and a MA in illustration at Anglia Ruskin University, during which she became fascinated by the natural cycles of life, and the place of art and the artist within those cycles.
Her 16 year ongoing exploration of working with willow as a medium began spontaneously, when she quite innocently purchased a couple of garden supports for her garden! During the installation process of the supports, Debbie instantly recognised the potential of willow as a sustainable material, and enrolled in a well respected Creative Basketry course at the adult specialist city college CityLit in London.
Her goal is to create beautiful pieces that reflect the natural world and to achieve this, she often uses curves which echo the patterns of nature in shapes such as spirals and webs. She particulary enjoys creating site specific works, such as her living willow structures, some of which were commisioned in 2012 by the RSPB at their Nature Reserve in Minsmere.
Debbie grows the willow for her work a couple of miles from her studio, it is completely organic and summers growth is hand harvested in the winter months. Having a local, low impact growing plot enables her to experience a unique close contact with her chosen material through its entire lifecycle, and she enjoys watching her willow and living sculptures change with the seasons.
The living willow structures lie dormant in winter, the bare stems emphasize the structural shape of the work. Early spring brings fat buds in anticipation of the new shoots and fresh leaves of late spring and the heavy covering which provides such comfortable shade in the summer.
"Whatever I create, when exposed to the elements, it takes on a life of its own, moving towards growth or decay. Whether made from living or non-living materials, my input is only a part of the process. I shape, tend, nurture, and guide, but am ultimately a participant in nature’s beautiful work." Debbie Hall. 2013.
Many years later SalixArts still has Debbie (and her passion) at its core, but it has expanded to include her husband Matt (a dab hand at willow knots, and a veteran workshop assistant and cook), daughter Polly (workshop chef, chief cake maker and website assistant), daughter Annie (willow sorter and bundler), and latest additions, Rob (who has been assisting with the living willow and other large projects), and Zoe (who loves to harvest, sort and bundle our lovely organic willow - even in the coldest of conditions!)