Fibre artist Siân Boucherd is in it for the long haul. Her mum was a ‘master knitter’, and growing up Siân absorbed her expert skills as a quilt maker, knitter and seamstress. ‘Fibre has always been there, a preoccupation’, she admits. She made her first ‘bush basket’ 16 years ago, but it wasn’t until 6 years ago that she took up the practice in earnest.
After initially studying a Visual Arts degree with a focus on drawing and painting, she spent time pursuing a curatorial practice in Australia and the UK. It wasn’t until Siân returned back home to Western Australia from the UK, and started running an art centre for criminal offenders that she really started to unlock the therapeutic and artistic benefits of basket making. She explains, ‘coiling baskets quickly became my go-to as a technique that anyone can learn.’ The work is simple and repetitive – ‘which can be very therapeutic in itself’, she says – but once you understand the basics, all the small creative decisions involved makes for an ‘autonomous project where the scope for possibility is limitless’.
Teaching every day got her hooked, and Siân still finds herself excited by the potential of ‘such a foundational and ancient technology’. She explains, ‘I could spend a lifetime exploring this one simple thing and really see where I can take it. So that’s what I’m doing, it’s a long game.’ Her weaving is snuck into any spare moment – some days a few stitches on the fly, and mixed with full days in the studio with music and dying of fibres where possible. She explains, ‘while it is a slow process, it gives me a real sense of forward momentum, it is thoughtful, incremental work and that pace feels just right to me – almost an antidote to regular life.’
Place deeply informs Siân’s textural, contemporary work. After returning from her four-year stint in London, Sian found new inspiration in the quality of light and landscape in Western Australia. ‘The natural environment asserts its dominance here in a unique way’, she says. ‘A sense of respect and wonderment for this landscape is ever-present in my work, and is reflected in my desire to work in a medium that will one day break down and be reclaimed by the earth’.