How did you begin basketweaving?
After leaving college I tried many crafts including pottery, woodturning and painting, but willow work seemed to come easily to me and I really enjoy working with it. I think it can take a while to really find the material that fires you and then you are always pushing to see how far you can take it.
How is your craft linked to your surroundings?
My craft is inextricably linked to the territory and environment. Weather and soil conditions dictate how thick and tall the willow rods grow and this dictates what sculptures they can be used for. Some crops are better than others, but each year I try to treat the differences as a challenge to try new sculptures.
© Julie Johnston
What type of willow do you use?
I use up to 40 varieties of willow in each sculpture. This provides a huge palette of colour and texture and gives my work a depth and intensity that helps bring it to life. It is my constant pursuit of perfection, to get the next sculpture better than the last, that keeps the craft alive and challenging for me.
Can you share a career highlight?
Being approached by Billy Butchkavitz, the very talented designer of HBO’s after-parties, who asked me to create a willow throne and three willow dragons for the Game of Thrones season 8 European premiere in Belfast. It was seven months of challenging, creative and very exciting work.