top of page

 Fish Shop Ballater

  Installation April 2023

Wattle and Daub

Hilary Duncan (ceramist) and I embarked on a new project together in 2017, combining our traditional skills of basketmaking and ceramics; two ancient crafts so intertwined in history and in life that it was natural to explore how they connect and complement each other.  

Over the course of two weeks in the summer of 2017 we built a wood fired kiln in the garden at Heckleburn.  The willow framework was covered in a mixture of clay, sawdust, wood chips, sand and water.  You can watch it being built in time lapse on the following link, and whilst it took over two weeks to build, the video is only two and a half minutes long, it's very funny and worth a watch.,wn


The body or work produced by Helen and Hilary was exhibited at The Barn, Banchory.


I really do enjoy repairing baskets, chairs etc.and always think of the person who might have made it.  Each piece made by someone.

This cherished and well used children's chair was a delight to repair.

Chair Repair 1
Chair Repair 2

River of Fish - Mel Shand, Hilary Duncan, Jan Leatham and Helen Jackson

Working with our partners The Barn and The River Dee Trust, River of Fish was designed to engage participants across the community, combining creativity with education.  Artists and members of the community made an installation of 230 ceramic salmon each one mounted on a steel rod.  A willow 'whopper' was adorned with ceramic scales made at Banchory Farmers' Market and local schools.  The Installation was moved piece by piece to different locations across Deeside; The Banchory Lodge Hotel, The Barn, Balmoral and Braemar Castle.  The project was launched at the beginning of the fishing season in February 2015 and ended in October, the end of the fishing season, with a grand auction selling off all the fish for charity.

More photographs are available to see on


Interesting Commission

This was an interesting commission from a local estate.  They are basket sieves or suction strainers used for pumping water from an unfiltered body of water. The basket acts as a sieve to prevent debris from clogging up the input hose and potentially damaging the pump. The basket is secured to the hose with a canvas collar.

These willow baskets are still in use today by firefighters because they are flexible, light and don’t break when thrown into a body of water.

bottom of page