STELLA HARDING Statement
Driven by a desire to create a dynamic contemporary aesthetic using basketry techniques, I weave three-dimensional, mixed media structures: including large-scale wall pieces, site responsive installations, intricate geometric forms and wearable structures that push the boundaries of traditional basketry.
Though drawn by the call of the wild to gather and experiment with natural materials I’m also keen to exploit the rich harvest of discarded manufactured materials that abound on the city streets – ripe for transformation and re-cycling. Alongside conventional basketry materials such as willow and dogwood I also use plastics, metal, paper and textile fibres. I love the life and energy in natural materials yet I seek to re-nature them using paint and pigment, mark making and surface texturing. My work is as much about line and gestural movement as it is about form and geometric space.
Born in the stark industrial east end of Sheffield but instilled with a passion for the surrounding countryside I now live and work in London – one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world and a place where elements of the natural world are sometimes strangely juxtaposed against the urban landscape. Simultaneously subverting and celebrating the pastoral idyll I seek inspiration from the ways in which culture and nature interweave in unexpected ways, each one leaving its mark upon the fabric of the other.
Recently I’ve begun to explore the natural mathematics underlying and revealed by traditional basketry techniques. Despite being somewhat maths phobic I find that my hands can grasp what my mind lets slip. The spiral plait is endlessly fascinating: its relationship to universal structures in both the natural and cultural environment connects my making to cyclical patterns of growth and renewal. The tightly constrained intertwined forms reveal a tension between the organic and the engineered – archefossils from our industrial past.
I welcome commissions for site responsive projects and opportunities to work with museums and historic collections. I’m also keen to share my skills in basketry by giving talks and workshops and engaging others through public participation in making.