I love repeat clients. Not just because of the obvious reasons but because it signifies a connection with a client and my creative expression. Clients who invest in my work again and again enjoy the nature-inspired aesthetic I create and the fresh designs that keep me pushing the boundaries of sculptural basketry. Those type of clients are how this story starts.
Recently I was honored to create a large wall hanging for an outdoor fireplace on a beautiful covered porch in one of the most fabulous mountain estates I've ever had the privilege to visit. The long drive to the top of the mountain was just the warm-up for the crushed pebble driveway, Olmsted-like gardens and stately mountain manor clad in stacked stone and poplar bark. An extensive collection of native perennials and a flowing stream welcomed me onto this beautiful estate.
Once inside visiting with my clients, the home's interior is equally impressive but what caught my eye was the fine craft collection. Artists who I've admired for years and who's work inspire me fill the walls, shelves, pedestals and niches of this elegant mountain home. Artists like the famed Atlanta woodturning family, the Moulthroups, internationally-known Asheville sculptor Michael Sherrill and Kentucky-based woodcarver Jim Sams just to name a few. It was truly a feast for the senses.
As we moved through the home, we made our way to the outdoor porch which overlooked Lake Fairfield and the incredible cliffs that call Cashiers, NC home. I was lucky enough to get a tour of the gardens before we settled in to talk about creating a special piece of art for their home. As if the natural environment was not inspiring and beautiful enough, now it was my turn to create something to echo the beauty of the natural world and while not overpowering the rustic elegance of the space. After talking for a while, taking some reference pictures and making a few note-filled sketches, I gathered my things and went back to the studio to design something truly special.
For me, every sculptural piece like this begins with the branches. Once I have some branches that inspire me, then I can transcribe that shape onto paper and start the imagining process. After sketching and adding some simple watercolor, I sent the rendering to my clients for approval. They loved it and so I began work. 3 branches, 14 baskets and a whole lot of work.
Over the nest 2 weeks, I worked to create this special piece. Now that it's installed, my prayer is for it to continue to inspire, reflect the simple beauty of nature and enhance the elegant environment that is now my sculpture's 'forever home'.
Matt Tommey is a sculptural basketry artist working in Asheville, North Carolina's River Arts District.