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Spirit of Air - Inscriptions by Lizzie Farey
Review by Lise Bech
Attending the opening of Lizzie's long awaited solo show at the Gracefield was a very uplifting experience.The well-chosen, elegant title, 'Spirit of Air' naturally reflected Lizzie's journey in the past year where she - thanks to a development grant from the Scottish Arts Council - has created a body of work which is characterised by lightness, transparency and joy.
Even before entering the gallery I knew that what I was about to witness would be world class and leading edge and I was not disappointed!
As members of the SBC will know the circle is the simplest and the most profound shape in all life and the circle is the unifying force in the 18 pieces on show - explored in the of forms of sphere, ring and disc; - only a pair of swooping swallows stir the stillness!
As you step into the gallery a very large (1 meter diameter?) ash ring greets you with weight and gravitas floating as it does in the middle of the room. I was impressed, but my jaw dropped with delight when I came across an interlocked pair of similar garlands deliciously hidden away in an alcove!
The wall sketches celebrate the beauty and variety of willow and appear as distillations of Lizzie's previous work pared down to the essentials, - a few sticks invisibly pined together echo the willow balls of the past! The caligraphic quality of these pieces (note the exhibition's strapline!) give the work a spiritual dimension - are they Koans for us to ponder or transient moments in a makers process/progress?
Two impressive random weave pieces, Pussy Willow Ball and Pussy Willow Disc, provide solidity and promise that this signature technique is not likely to be left behind as a spent force as her mastery of it continues to deepen.
As pioneer in the field of basketmaking, some years ago Lizzie chose to call herself an "Artist Basketmaker". With this body of work she will be recognised as an Artist, - an artist whose medium is willow, whose skill has been honed in the field of craft, and - I hope - a world class artist! It was, therefore, only right and much to Gracefield's acclaim that the exhibition was opened by Professor Simon Olding, Director of The Crafts Study Centre at the University for the Creative Arts, Farnham.
An illustrated (photos by Shannon Tofts) publication describing Lizzie's work and practice and including essays by Prof. Olding and Emma Crichton-Miller has been published to co-incide with the exhibition priced at £6