Lizzie trained in fine art and stained glass before turning to basketry in 1991, learning the first steps from her sister-in-law in North Wales. She planted a field of willow cuttings and her passion for working with natural materials began. Always keen to try new approaches to this traditional craft Lizzie gradually gained a strong reputation for her simple innovative forms, especially the spheres often decorated with catkins or pussy willow.
A cover article in Crafts Magazine in 1997 helped establish Lizzie’s career in Britain and abroad – especially in the U.S. where she started selling her work at Browngrotta Arts. This, in turn, led to numerous awards and offers to show her work in Sotheby’s New York, SOFA Chicago, The V & A London etc. In 2004 Lizzie won the BBC Homes & Antiques ‘Talent around Britain’ award, voted for by the public and sponsored by John Lewis.
In 2007 Lizzie received the Creative Development Award from the Scottish Arts Council (now Creative Scotland) allowing her to pursue her new interest in ‘willow wall drawings’. These new pieces were exhibited in a solo exhibition at Edinburgh’s City Art Centre in 2010 and a large piece was commissioned for their stairwell, spanning two floors.
In July 2011 Lizzie’s willow light installation ‘Heart’ went on permanent display in the newly refurbished National Museum in Edinburgh, and other collections include Priors Court School, Reading; The City Arts Centre, Edinburgh; and The Shipley Art Gallery, Gateshead
‘I take my influences from the Galloway countryside where I live and work. I am surrounded by hills, lochs, larch and heather, the essence of which I try to recapture in my work. I grow my willow in nearby farmer’s fields and collect ash and other materials from the hedgerows. My working life is governed by the cycle of nature.
The work leads me and stimulates me at the same time. The pieces that I forge create a sense of spaciousness and take on a life of their own.
I try to express the complex in as simple a way as possible the natural materials often having a quiet and still effect on the viewer.’ – Lizzie Farey, 2012