Geoff Forrest set up Sustainable Designs as an ethical craft business to promote the use of willow in all its forms.
He was initially taught and mentored by Lise Bech who introduced him to the work of other local makers and the Scottish Basketmakers' Circle. Since then he has trained under numerous national and international makers such as Mary Butcher MBE, Adrian Charlton, Joe Hogan, Ane Lyngsgaard and Colin Manthorpe. He has also studied sculptural willow weaving with Trudi Entwhistle and practical willow cultivation with Steve Pickup.
His area of work falls into four main categories, traditional baskets, living willow installations, sculptures and teaching. More recently he has been experimenting with contemporary approaches, particularly influenced by Ane Lyngsgaard, which has led to a series of leaf forms. the line, structure, and stages of development and decline within the story of a leaf is a fascinating journey, the possibilities are endless. However the search for the perfect woven handbag goes on.
From 2005 to 2010 he was secretary of the Scottish Basketmakers' Circle and acting Chair for one of those years. He is also a member of the Basketmakers' association and the Heritage Craft association. During 2008 he was secretary of the Ayrshire Makers having been an active member for several years.
Working a lot with schools and community groups has enabled him to spread the use and practice of willow weaving to a wider audience. In turn this has led to some significant commissions such as Auchinstarry Marina and a public sculpture in his local town Dalmellington. much of his work is purchased directly on commission or through local markets and craft events.
Willow permeates everything, growing in the fields around his workshop to the everyday items for carrying logs or 'Ben the storyteller' who greets people parking their cars when visiting the farm.
Year Established: 2002
Helping students of the Scottish Agricultural College win Silver Gilt in their 2012 entry at Gardening Scotland.
Creating all the living willow structures at Auchinstarry Marina.
Being selected as one of the makers featured in the 'Plantweave' DVD
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