Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres

10 Feb 2021

This February we are escaping the Scottish winter with our joint exhibition Two Hemispheres, featuring work from willow artist Lise Bech alongside glass artist Amanda Simmons.

Lise Bech, originally from Denmark, now lives and works from her studio in Fife where she grows a wide range of willows (Salix species) for her basket making. Lise’s initial interest and motivation in taking up basketry was her desire to be involved with the whole process of making beautiful and useful organic objects: from the growing and harvest of the raw materials through to design and final execution of the piece - each step satisfying her love of and commitment to the natural world. Working exclusively with Scottish willow - much of it organically grown, tended and harvested (coppiced) by hand - she weaves traditional as well as contemporary pieces.

Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres
Lise Bech in her studio, Photograph: Tara Fisher - courtesy of Country Living
Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres
Drying willow, Photograph: Tara Fisher - courtesy of Country Living
Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres
Lise Bech at work, Photograph: Tara Fisher - courtesy of Country Living

I made my first basket whilst living in Northern Ireland under the expert tuition of the aptly named Ms Greenwood! When I moved to Scotland she gave me one hundred willow cuttings thus ensuring I would ‘keep my hand in’. That was the start of my love affair with willow. Growing my own materials keeps me connected with the seasonal rhythms and has fostered a sense of pride and integrity with regards to the final product – homegrown, organic, carefully harvested and lovingly handmade in Scotland

Lise Bech
Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres
Dappled Sun (detail), 2020, Homegrown organic Salix purpurea Carl Jensen and S. Britzensis, H24 x W30 cm
Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres
Stick Vase (left) and Broch (right), 2020, homegrown Salix Lasiandra and various organic willows, H39-50 x W19-28 x D19-28 cm

Having lived among the Southern Uplands of Scotland for many years and drawn inspiration and solace from their embrace, I have moved to another undulating landscape which speaks volumes: The Paps of Fife. Living close to the earth through gardening, growing my own willows and caring deeply for the planet co-operation, collaboration and community continues to be the touchstones which inform my life and work as a basketmaker.

Lise Bech
Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres
Extra Large Garland, 2021, birch, H42 x W42 x D15 cm
Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres
Shield Wall Piece, 2021, Various homegrown organic willows, H63 x W49 cm

I approach my weaving sessions as a conversation on a playdate where the give-and-take between maker and material transforms a bundle of sticks into a tactile image of mutuality. Working exclusively with Scottish willows I aim to show the variety and beauty of different varieties and their forgiving nature, and to create lively, appealing sculptural forms which echo the landscape that surrounds me.

Lise Bech
Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres
Trifoil, 2020, homegrown Salix Purpurea Dickie Meadows, H30 x W44 x D33 cm
Lise Bech | Studio Insights | Two Hemispheres
Hot Sun, 2020, Homegrown organic Salix Britzensis and S. Flanders Red, H34 x W35 cm

Please enjoy this short film below from 2010 where Lise discusses the challenges of finding weaving techniques that suit particular varieties of willow.

Two Hemispheres runs until the 27th of February and Lise's full collection can be viewed online here.

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