ANNE MARIE O'SULLIVAN
7 July- 27 August 2012
Fabrica was delighted to work with Annemarie O’Sullivan, a UK basket maker to present Cluster, a new site-specific commission for the gallery. A basket maker whose work ranges from small-scale domestic objects through to larger-scale woven forms, O’Sullivan mainly makes her constructions outdoors. From her base in Lewes, East Sussex, she draws inspiration from the undulating South Downs landscape and from the theme of shelter.
Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the iconic Sussex gridshell structures at The Weald and Downland Museum and The Woodland Enterprise Centre at Flimwell, O’Sullivan has drawn inspiration from the two buildings to produce a site-specific sculptural installation of elegant, organic beauty. Cluster is a large-scale installation comprising a series of woven sculptures that allow the visitor to move in and around them. The work, combined with the architecture of the building, create both a social space in which to gather and play and a space of quiet contemplation. Cluster was developed from an original proposal by Oliver Lowenstein, editor of Fourth Door Review, the structures have been made using finger-jointed sweet chestnut supplied by Inwood Developments.
My passion is for things woven, knotted and netted. I remember the first time I made a basket. I never wanted to stop. I still feel the same. I have to be dragged away. Often I can’t get to sleep at night, thinking about baskets, weaving and woven things. There aren’t nearly enough hours in the day.
I live on the South Downs, a beautiful and exposed landscape punctuated with windswept hawthorn trees and hewn chalk pits. Everyday I walk an old sheep drove worn into the landscape by the thousands of human and animal footsteps trodden before me. Most days I notice how closely a copse of trees grow together in an exposed location.
My work is a response to the curves and marks of this landscape; the materials I gather and grow and what I know and love about the ancient crafts of basketry and working with coppiced wood.
Shelter – the simple act of protecting oneself against the elements - has been a recurring theme in my work. Sheep harboring under hawthorn bushes, the rain capes and temporary shelters made by the coroza from Galicia and the Iraqi marsh people, and the transformation of card board boxes for protection by homeless people - these are acts of making that I have taken inspiration from.
For Cluster I have been thinking about how creatures gather together for protection, warmth and social contact against a harsh environment and how to explore this sculpturally in the space at Fabrica, a former church.
My baskets and other woven forms are made to commission. I was trained as a teacher and I continue to work in schools sharing my ideas, and exploring and discovering new ways of making with children and young people. I also teach adults traditional basket making skills.