by the Rambler 11/05/2001
A MONTH ago, under the heading 'Minister acts to save traditional craft in the Montiagh's area' I explained that the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Mrs Rodgers, and Ms McLernon, Rural Development Officer for County Antrim had held out prospects of funding being made available to train basketmakers under a new plan for rural development which is to be published shortly.
I also outlined the training facilities which exist in Bavaria, facilities which are open to trainees from any EU country.
Since then, I have carried out some research in the rest of the UK, courtesy of the Basketmakers Association known. in the basket trade as 'the BA'. The BA publishes a prestigious quarterly, entitled the Basketmakers Association Newsletter and I have been provided with the last three, which contain inter alia details of the Association's Summer School to be held September 3rd - 7th.
The venue is Woodrow High House, Amersham, Bucks. Seemingly it is an annual event.
The 'school' comprises a very comprehensive syllabus.
There are' five different classes, each with a different tutor.
Class A is entitled: 'Improvers Willow-Swiss style'; B -covers 'Traditional Irish Basketry': C - 'Functional Farm Baskets'; D - 'Plaited Forms and Baskets from Paper Cords' and E -'Willow sculpture'.
With handsome period rooms as workshops; bedrooms with hand basins; food portions generous; service friendly; lovely wooded grounds; heated swimming pools and ample parking, the accommodation sounds idyllic.
A week in friendly company - learning with expert tuition, is really inviting.
Naturally, all this does not come cheap. Residents with full board and tuition pay £325.
Day, including lunch, £220. Non members (of BA), pay £15 extra.
There are five bursaries of £150 but, sadly, only for association members.
Still, if our rural development agency were to assist with funding this should be a grand opportunity for anyone seriously interested.
Further details: Tel Ray Gillott, 01494 722674.
A deposit of £50 is payable on booking, with full payment by July 10, 2001.
There is an insurance scheme to protect persons booked but unable to attend.
I have no information on demand for places but obviously early booking would be prudent.
The County Antrim Rural Development Office is at Tower Centre, Wellington Street, Ballymena.
The contact is Ms McLernon and the phone number is 028 2563 2199.
Nene Park Trust at Peterborough, Tel 01733 234193 is another venue where tuition in working with willow is available, mostly weekend or daily.
As well, there are three pages listing courses in Basketmaking all over Britain in the Autumn 2000 BA Newsletter.
Now wouldn't it be nice to have one at Deerpark, for example?
Hopefully, that day will come. A craft which goes back to the Ice Age must be preserved.
In 1832. Osier Beds proliferated around the SE corner of Lough Neagh and some of these Osiers were as pliable as ribbon according to local weavers.