Spanish basket maker Lluis Grau has just spent the whole morning heating wild cherry wood poles over an open fire in the darkness of his traditional bodega or stone hut, in the Ribeira Sacra, rural Ourense, north Spain. After heating them he splits them lengthwise by hand, following the natural grain of the wood to form splints. Four neatly tied bundles of splints of wood are the result, each classified according to length. Lluis will then plane the splits using a two-handled knife – a drawknife – into smooth, even strips which are then woven together to form baskets. Lluis is one of the few traditional basketmakers in the whole of Galicia, north Spain, who still have the necessary knowledge and skills to make these baskets.
The four bundles of wood will be enough to make around a dozen baskets for Lluis´ annual exhibition held in August in his workshop. Lluis´ production each year is limited and as well as selling direct from his workshops he is often invited to exhibit in international exhibitions. At the moment one of his pieces is on show in the prestigious Joahannes Larsen Museet in Denmark, in the “Kirsebaer-Kurv 2010” (Cherry Basket) exhibition.
Just across the way from where Lluis is working Anna, his partner, a hand-weaver, has finished weaving a length of cloth and has cut it from the loom. The resulting roll is satisfyingly heavy and includes enough glossy linen fabric to make several glossy linen babycapes as well as decorative stripey linen cloth made from a completely different grade of linen yarn which is very rustic in feel. To make a woven textile on a handloom today requires a minimum of ten separate processes and just setting up the loom can take a week´s work. Anna´s weave workshop is the only one in the whole of the Ribeira Sacra area of Galicia, and Lluis is one of the few basketmakers left too. Both represent traditions of making objects by hand which are centuries´ old. Although none have younger successors both have taught many pupils, both at their workshops and internationally and are committed to teaching and researching, to pass on their skills, as well as producing work for sale.
Summer Exhibition and Open Workshops 2010 – Anna and Lluis both open their workshops to the public during the month of August – Opening Hours and Map / How to Get There – when they stage their annual selling exhibition of craftwork. Both makers also accept commissions and sales by email. Entry to the exhibition and sale area is free and guided tours with the makers are also available every day until 45 minutes before closing time. 2.50€ per person (Tel. 669 600 620). The rest of the year the workshops are closed to the public except by prior appointment, for guided visits (Tel. 669 600 620).
Basketry and Weaving Holidays and Tuition – Anna Champeney Estudio Textil and Lluis Grau, Basketmaker, offer personalized tuition as well as a programme of basketry and weaving courses during the year.
Where to Stay – Accommodation in the Ribeira Sacra – The nearest place to stay is Casa dos Artesans, Lluis and Anna´s rustic holiday cottage, decorated with their own baskets and hand-loomed textiles. The cottage has two double bedrooms.
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