Mary Butcher, formerly a Zolologist whose graduate research focused on spider ecology, trained with a traditional basketmaker, Alwyne Hawkins, in Kent . She used willow and rush, our traditional materials, making functional items for local markets. She also spent a lot of her time chair seating for local antigue dealers and private customers and, with Olivia Elton Barratt and Kay Johnson, has written a manual of seating techniques. A Research Fellowship at Manchester Metropolitan University alerted Mary to a wealth of new creative possibilities with a wider range of materials and markets.
Mary Butcher is now an artist basketmaker still using natural materials, plastics, wire, strings, cardboard strips and paper to make containers, willow drawings and sculptures in a wide variety of scales and forms . Mary was Crafts Council Designer in Residence at the V&A in 2009, was awarded an MBE for services to basketmaking in 2012 and was one of two Crafts Skills Champions, in 2013, an award for transmission of traditional seating and basketmaking skills, an activity she feels passionate about.