Bailgate Independent Article on Artisanne Weavers
The Artisan Marker, which opened at number 86 Bailgate in November, offers, handmade functional goods from local, British and international artists including its very popular traditionally-made hand-woven baskets from Senegal. Whilst the Artisan Maker only stocks fairly-traded international good, the Senegalese baskets have an extra colourful story all of their own.
Sisters Elizabeth and Emma supply the baskets to the shop; Elizabeth is based in London and Emma in Senegal, allowing her to directly work and negotiate with 'the ladies' as they have become fondly referred to by the team behind the Artisan Maker. The undeniably talented and dedicated Senegalese ladies weave with meticulous attention to detail from their homes in villages near Thies in Senegal. The skills are shared and passed down through the generations. Emma works directly with them, and ensures they are paid a fair and, just as importantly secure income and they are paid directly which gives them control over their own income.
The baskets are beautiful; if you pop into the Artisan Marker, the team will point out which of the baskets are made by the 'ladies' (one other fair-trade supplier is also used). They include the popular Ali Baba laundry or storage basket and a striped flat lidded basket in blue or pink plus the shop is now also carrying smaller lidless baskets for wastepaper, kindling etc; large oversized trays for fruit, newspapers, bread etc. and lovely table mats. Some oval baskets are expected soon as well as coasters.
The Artisan Maker is full of useful and practical items for everyday living and has been very well received by county dwellers and visitors alike. As well as baskets you can expect to find pottery, glassware, rugs, throws, cast iron, bakeware, etc., all made by hand and traditional methods. The accent is on quality and practical use, but also focuses on the skill and story of its maker. Whilst The Artisan Maker isn't a gift shop as such, it's possible that people seeking to give somebody something practical will find what they need as well as plenty for their own home.