Sian Pritchard is a willow artist and teacher based in Grafton, Ontario, where she also grows basketry willow for sale and use in her workshops.
Sian was first introduced to willow years ago while visiting family in North Wales:
My uncle lives in a small village high up the side of the Conwy Valley. When he first purchased the house, his back garden was separated from a neighbouring farmer’s field by a low stone wall. The sheep on the other side of that stone border often ventured across it to inspect my uncle’s perennial garden.
In an effort to keep the sheep and perennials separate, my uncle commissioned an elderly gentleman to weave some willow panels or hurdles that could be mounted on that not-so-effective stone fence. Each week that gentleman — we’ll call him Mr. Jones — wove willow into hurdles. With two hurdles under one arm, he’d climb onto his bicycle and pedal those panels up the narrow, twisting, single-lane road that clung to the side of the valley. Once installed, Mr. Jones would ride back down and start again. It was so beautiful.
Years later, I took my first willow class with the wonderful Ankaret Dean. I was hooked. The material, the process, the product, the learning, the community — so fulfilling.
Sian’s previous work and education in horticulture and landscape design taught her a lot about form, function, art, and science, and fuelled her love of learning. She now brings this knowledge and passion to the craft of weaving.
Working with willow and other natural materials allows Sian to blend art and horticulture into something imaginative, meaningful, and sustainable. In her workshops, Sian most enjoys nurturing her students’ curiosity and imagination, helping them to progress in their vision and craft whatever their skill level.
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