Ruby Taylor: artist/maker, educator

Ruby Taylor

Artist/maker: a dialogue emerges between myself, my hands, and the materials. Inspired and challenged by making with natural materials foraged from woods, hedgerows and the land, immersed in the whole cycle of production: harvesting in a sustainable way, processing the raw materials, creating functional and sculptural pieces.

My practice is materials-led, working with plant fibres and clay. It’s concerned with origins and connection and the immersive, sensory experience of making. I’m in my element 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 the natural world.

Projects

Process: Wild Clay; Bark; Plant fibres

Here’s a short film about why I do what I do, beautifully made by Jasper Enujuba. It’s filmed on location in the Sussex woods where I harvest wild clay and plant fibres, and where I run courses:

Educator: I provide a supportive space for people to develop their skills and creativity, as well as their connection with the natural world. Witnessing the sense of achievement and satisfaction that comes from making a basket or pot this way inspires me. I’m committed to helping keep a heritage of craft skills alive for the future. 

I see how people can feel deeply nourished and uplifted by 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 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.

With a BA Hons in 3-Dimensional Craft (majoring in ceramics), I then 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 offer trainings and courses for heritage and cultural organisations including English Heritage.

I’m grateful for traditional wisdom and knowledge, and for those I have learned from -and continue to learn from- along the way.

Photo credit (top): Curtis James

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