Maggie Smith is an artisan who works with unconventional material expressions through the discipline and tradition of basket making techniques. Her inspiration comes from the natural world and the materials around her. Much of her work begins with a found object, which she builds around, often incorporating materials from the same location, with the element of chance forcing Smith to explore possibilities, sometimes inconvenient, and often-unconventional materials, challenging her abilities.
Fascinated by the relationship between maker and material, Smith explores the collaborative relationship between the two, with the relationship enhanced through deep exploration of material use. Much of Smith’s recent work has centered on the use of willow, deconstruction and experimentation, allowing over time for her to develop a more intimate knowledge of the material. Her work is organic by its very nature, often taking its own course, changing and developing, and taking new and unexpected directions as she problem solves, and collaborates with the material. The metamorphosis of her work is both challenging and exciting to Smith, learning and growing through the experience with each new piece. Each discovery and observation of the various guises and forms that willow takes, the colors, and textures, inspires new work and new projects.
Smith’s exploration of vessels, packets, and purses from willow look like treasured aboriginal artifacts from a native America tribe, an ancient expression of functionality and aesthetics through the single material of willow. The Willow-ware collection encompasses a range of bark strippings, twigs and stripped wood, each coordinated beautifully and organically. The diversity of the single material use, is stark in its complexity and technique variations, with fibers woven, knitted, twisted and stitched together, to form pleasing artifacts. Meant for installation purposes, Smith is working on a means of making her baskets and bags functional for future use as well as admiration.