Lorna Singleton: My Artful Way

A woman sitting on a woven wooden stool with a handwoven basket on her lap with tulips in.

“There’s an ethnographic element to my work. I’m fascinated by baskets as a way of understanding how people connect to their landscape, what materials they weave with, how they process it, what purpose they have, who makes them, what they were historically used for and how has this interaction shaped the landscape.”

Lorna Singleton is one of the UK’s last remaining ‘swillers’ – specialists in traditional baskets woven using coppiced oak, and is one of the four artists who have been selected for the ‘My Artful Way’ commission. Lorna ‘s proposed work will involve a 3 day walk from The Rusland Valley where she works and lives, to Morecambe Bay and back up the other side of the valley, along Windermere and back through the woods to her home. The route will trace the history of the baskets Lorna makes, from their origins in the woodland, past areas that were once forges and tanneries through to Morecambe Bay where they were used for cockling.

Trained by Owen Jones, Lorna is one of the last people still practising her craft and keeping this important knowledge alive. On her walk she will weave baskets each day from hazel rods she has coppiced along the way. She will be letting the rhythm of her footsteps and the rhythm of the weave give her space to grieve for connections and plans lost during the pandemic, at the same time gently weaving herself back together. As well as producing the baskets Lorna will use the walk to connect with people who have similar creative ideas about land-use and regenerative agriculture, taking photos along the way and writing about the walk after the event.

Lorna lives and works in the Rusland Valley. She manages an ancient oak coppice -an annual cycle of coppicing trees, making baskets, nurturing regrowth, protecting it from browsing animals, collecting acorns and planting seedlings in less dense areas. She grew up in the Cumbrian village of Milnthorpe, and spent her childhood outdoors hiking & cycling around the hills and woods of the Lake District with friends and family. This landscape and environment are home to Lorna and her work is inspired by and drawn from the surroundings.

Lorna studied Social Anthropology and Archaeology at Manchester after which she completed a three-year apprenticeship in coppicing and woodland crafts with the Bill Hogarth MBE Memorial Apprenticeship Trust in 2010.  

3 thoughts on “Lorna Singleton: My Artful Way

  1. Kay Leech says:

    I was fascinated reading this and followed up by reading all about you on your website. We have some oak in our wood that have clearly been coppiced in the past and we have been wondering about coppicing them in the future.

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