Why did you choose to work with willow?
I think it chose me. As soon as I felt I had a personal link with the material and my own ways to use it, it felt like an unstoppable energy. I began by making shapes I could climb into – like huge nests – and then gravitated towards immersive works for outdoor spaces.
Is what you do connected to basketry?
Only by virtue of the skill of twisting and manipulating strands of willow. Beyond this basic technique, my work has stepped outside the usual limits of the genre to create very complex, site-specific works. The hand-knotting is my own signature.
© Steve Hickey
How do you express innovation?
By using this very traditional craft material in unexpected places, such as working with architects and designers to bring it into a built environment. For the headquarters of a company in Aarhus, Denmark, I created a woven space reflecting the ocean that can be viewed through the windows.
Is your craft in danger?
Wherever the natural world is under threat, then materials such as willow are under threat too. One of my most recent works, Don’t Let Go, at Warwick University, is intended to highlight the decline of insect life, a vital component in terrestrial ecosystems.