Ruby Taylor: artist/maker, educator

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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.

wakehurst place sculptureRecent commissions include a 6metre-high installation for Wakehurst (Royal Botanic Gardens Kew) in their recently opened woodland (see left). I was also Artist in Residence at Wakehurst in 2014. Other recent commissions include a basket for Brighton Museum’s new archaeology gallery and Neolithic-style pots for their Education Collection. You can see other work and commissions here.

Current and recent teaching work for Heritage and Cultural organisations includes staff training at Stonehenge for English Heritage (in Neolithic basket-making); staff training for Historic England and for Sussex Past; regular courses at Weald and Downland Living Museum; a community project for the Charleston Trust (home of the Bloomsbury Group); Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology and also the Pitt Rivers Museum VERVE project (which links their collection with contemporary practice).

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 finished piece, be it functional or sculptural.

wild pottery Ruby Taylor

Educator: I’m a trained teacher, with over 30 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 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 get inspired by seeing how people can feel deeply nourished and uplifted 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. I’m committed to helping keep a heritage of craft skills alive for the future. 

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  UK basketmakers. As a team member of East Sussex Archaeology and Museums Partnership (2009-15) I taught ancient craft & technology to all ages, and co-constructed prehistoric-style dwellings. I still provide training, teaching and demonstrations for Sussex Archaeological Society (the parent organisation).

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)