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Over and Under, Lewes Festival of Basketry & Ceilidh

Over and Under, Lewes Festival of Basketry & Ceilidh

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Event Listing Info:

Event categories

12:00 PM

Location / Link:

14 Phoenix Pl

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Celebrate the history of basket weaving in Lewes for a day of making, learning, music and dancing with ceilidh to finish the day!

Join us for a celebration of a full day of basket making, workshops, live music, demo’s, talks, cafe, gallery, and a Ceilidh! If you have always wanted to try your hand at basket making, or just love to try new things this event is for all of the family.

Human Nature and sussex basketmakers have partnered to celebrate the history of basket weaving in Lewes with a day of taster sessions, live music and a rip roaring Ceilidh by Folkadelix.

Doors open at 12pm for stalls and workshops followed by live local folk bands and a lively stompin ceilidh from 6-11pm. Drinks supplied by Beak Brewery, Pizza from Pat’s Pizza and ceilidh with Folkadelix.

– Tickets are £8 with children under 16 going FREE.

– Try a taster session with an experienced basketmaker for £5 – slots will need to be booked in advance for children and adults.

– Ceilidh only (6pm onwards) for £6

A little about the history of basketmaking

Found in almost all cultures across the world, basket weaving is one of the oldest known crafts, predating even ceramics and textiles. Here in Lewes, local basketmakers used the marshy flood plain and river to cultivate willow plantations, known as osier beds, providing them with a handy supply of material for making their wares.

The Phoenix Estate, where the festival is sited, was an industrial site for hundreds of years. This area was home to factories, workshops, mills, depots, warehouses and wharves, a tannery, an ironworks and timber yard. Every one of these industries would have had need of its specialist baskets, for moving, storing, and measuring their products. Local basketmakers would have gathered their willow and made baskets that specifically fulfilled these industries’ needs. Here on the Phoenix an industry of highly skilled craftsmen was developed and thrived for hundreds of years. A truly local and sustainable economy!

After the second world war, the basket making industry fell into swift decline. Machine-made, cheap moldable plastics were being developed and quickly took over from baskets and the industry almost disappeared, but not quite. For example, basketry had become a favoured activity of occupational therapists. It was found to be therapeutic during the first world war and was found to have a beneficial effect on shell-shocked (PTSD) victims. Also blinded war veterans were trained to make baskets and carried on their work, often for hospitals (for laundry) the post office (for parcels).

In the 1970’s basketmaking began to be enjoyed as a hobby and recognised as a heritage craft. With the support of the Basketmakers Association (founded in 1975) and the Worshipful Company of Basketmakers (founded in 1569) traditional and modern basketry survives. Today, it is more important than ever that we can find joy and enjoyment from making things out of locally grown materials!

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