Artist of the Month, Shirley Joyce oroz

The “Artist of the Month” title for April has landed squarely on the delightful, intelligent and talented, Shirley Sedgwick. She is a bright light in the AHA guild and a shining star at the Dragonfly Gallery. April will never be the same now that our hula instructor has taken the title and displayed her lovely baskets and cards at the Aromas Gallery.

Shirley has a history of living in interesting parts of this country. She has photographed wildlife in California, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, Washington State, not to mention more exciting places like Africa and Prunedale. It all started with a little Brownie camera, until her husband, Charles gave her a 35 mm upgrade. Shirley worked as a docent along side Charles the Zoologist. Her up-close and personal photos of wild animals are spectacular, but I also love the very creative and sensitive shots of dogs, cats and flowers.

Because of her interest in primates, Shirley earned a Masters in anthropology. Living for a time in Massachusetts, with a knowledge and interest in developing civilizations, she naturally learned to weave Nantucket Lightship Baskets. The Cadillac of baskets. Here is Shirley in her own words:

 "The Nantucket Lightship Basket has evolved since settlers first inhabited Nantucket, Massachusetts in the 18th century.  Its creators were first influenced by the Algonkian Indians who used simple weaving patterns in their baskets and later by the Nantucketers who added strength with a wooden bottom.  The beauty of the Nantucket Lightship Basket was perfected by the sailors who served aboard the U.S. lightships in the 1840’s through the 1890’s.  They added a third element in its evolution."

 "Because lighthouses could not be built easily on the mud and shifting sands of the Nantucket shoals, the United States government commissioned lightships to be anchored in that area to caution whaling and other vessels of the hazards off the island.  The lightships would be anchored in a given location for 3-5 months at a time.  To pass leisure time many of the seamen, who also were coopers (people who make or repair wooden casks or tubs), became basket makers.  They developed the technique of using molds (from their cooperage skills) in order to give their baskets exact measurements for use in trading, selling, etc.  This third element of the Nantucket Lightship Basket became the final development in its evolution.  Naturally, each basket maker added his own personal signature trademarks of creativity."

 "A beautiful Nantucket Lightship Basket is characterized by its wooden bottom, its tight rattan or wooden weave, and its mold-based construction."

  "My interests in both basketry and photography were enhanced while living in New England.  As an anthropologist, I found the evolution of the Nantucket Lightship Basket intriguing.  The sailors on the lightships incorporated the knowledge of the Indian basket makers with their own cooperage skills to develop the beautiful lightship baskets. And having been raised in Californiaand Hawaii, I found the beauty of the four seasons of Massachusettssoothing to the soul and mystifying to the eye.  I was able to capture images from the early spring through the fall and into the snowy winters.  Those pictures, added to my already developing file of animal photos, have given me many years of pleasure in photography."

 Thank you, Shirley for a great history lesson.
The lovely baskets are available at the Dragonfly Gallery, 380 Blohm, Aromas, just in time for May Day, May 1st. 

Saturday, April 27th, Shirley will be demonstrating her basket weaving at the Dragonfly Gallery from 2:00 to 4:00. Please join us for refreshments and Hawaiian music. 





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