"I BECAME a basketmaker because I was attracted to the idea of growing my own willow and being involved in the whole process from harvesting willow through to making a basket."
Thus explains traditional basketmaker and fine artist Joe Hogan, whose exhibition Gathered From The Earth, part of the Galway International Arts Festival, opens tomorrow at 6pm in The Kenny Gallery, Liosbán Retail Park, Tuam Road. The guest speaker will be sculptor John Behan.
Harvesting his own willow, Hogan makes functional and sculptural baskets. Many of the artistic baskets involve the use of bog wood from an area of wild isolated bogland near his home - he has worked from his studio in Loch na Fooey, north Galway, since 1978. Other works incorporate birch twigs, bog myrtle, catkins, and lichens.
"Although I made functional baskets for many years I have, over the past 15 years, become increasingly interested in making artistic or sculptural baskets," he says. "This work is prompted by a desire to develop a deeper connection to the natural world. Every time we walk out into the world we have the opportunity to see it anew and to experience the wonder of being here."
Gallery opening hours are Mondays to Saturdays, 9am to 5pm, until August 9. Admission is free.