Testimonials

Read what people had to say about my work
Woodland Trust - Blodeuwedd

“We first commissioned Beryl having seen the amazing wolf sculpture she had made for display at Coed y Bleiddiaid on the Ffestiniog Railway. I was able to convince my colleagues that we should do this simply by emailing round a digital image of the work!

The first piece Beryl made for us was a large sculpture of an ancient oak. We used this on numerous occasions, at the Royal Welsh Show, the National Eisteddfod and the Hay Festival, not to mention the Senedd, the home of the National Assembly for Wales, where it graced the main concourse area was admired by all who saw it. It was a brilliant piece of work, striking, beautiful but also great fun for children and adults to play in. And as well as making the piece, we also commissioned Beryl to work with children at the Royal Welsh Show, making ‘oak leaves’ for the tree, out of basketwork. We were very happy with this.

So pleased were we with Beryl’s work that we later commissioned her to make a sculpture of the mythical figure Blodeuwedd, which played a key role in a children’s drama production in one of our woods. The whole event, including the sculpture, was a great success, with very positive feedback from those who saw it.”

 

Rory Francis : Public Affairs and Press Officer, Woodland Trust. 2009

National Trust - A Plant in Time

“Not only does Beryl produce beautifully crafted willow sculptures within an agreed timescale – she is also a pleasure to work with in terms of her clear communication, her promptness in responding to queries and her willingness to respond to suggestions without compromising the finished product.”

Laura Hetherington : ‘A Plant in Time’ Project Manager for the National Trust. 2010

Yale College - Basket Making Demonstrations and Willow Weaving Workshops

“The gallery invited Beryl Smith to exhibit her work as part of the themed exhibition ‘Made in Wales’ which ran from14th September 2009 to the 12th February 2010. It brought together and celebrated the engaging diversity of contemporary and historical Welsh visual culture. A range of informative activities were organised to complement the exhibition and enhance student participation and project work. Beryl led three days of exciting and engaging willow weaving workshops in the gallery space, allowing students the opportunity to have a go at weaving and view a wide range of her willow baskets, sculptures and projects. Beryl worked with a variety of different students within the art department including Introductory and First Diploma, National Diploma, Textiles, Craft and WJEC Foundation. All were fully engaged with learning about the sustainability of willow, how it can be used as an artistic material and had the opportunity to learn weaving skills. These introductory sessions were enhanced by a final drop in afternoon where students came along and worked with Beryl to improve their skills. This resulted in the creation of willow stars, flowers and fish. Introductory and First Diploma students have used their experience to great effect and have gone on to create willow plant supports which they later sold at the student market as part of their enterprise project. Beryl was excellent with the students, who had a range of abilities, and created an exciting atmosphere within the gallery. The workshops brought together notions of teamwork, gaining traditional craft skills, sustainability and the opportunity for students to work with a professional maker.”

J Creed – Gallery Officer Memorial Gallery, Yale College, Wrexham

Hafren Junior School - Living Willow Fedge

“An exciting way to transform and enclose our garden area. Very worthwhile activity which involved the children and gave them ownership. Children (and staff!) were amazed at the process and delighted with the end result. An extremely professional and efficient job well done.”

Carl Hyde : Hafren Junior School, Newtown, Powys. 2010

Theatr na n'Óg

“I employed Beryl to construct the Willow elements of the theatre set Gluscabi for Theatr na n’Óg. Beryl’s work was amazing – she was able to fulfil and exceed the needs of the brief, and was flexible in her approach as the design and construction changed during the development of the production.”

“Beryl’s ability as a weaver and craftsperson are of an extremely high standard. The willow elements of the set were much remarked upon by the schools that the production toured to and helped underpin the foundation phase and Forest school ethos of many primary schools in Wales.”

Guy O’Donnell : Set Designer, Gluscabi, Theatr na n’Óg

Countryside Council for Wales - The Maentwrog (Coed y Bleiddiau) Living Willow Wolf

“Beryl had already created a wicker sculpture of a howling wolf which stood in the Coedydd Maentwrog National Nature Reserve at the top of the magnificent oak woods. It had been beside the main footpath and the Ffestiniog Railway in a part of the woods known as Coed y Bleiddiau (wood of the wolves), where local legend has it that this was the place where the last wolf in Wales was killed. The wicker wolf had a definite life span and a definite purpose. As the wicker wolf gradually reached then end of its life, we watched sadly and started contemplating life without the wolf, when someone came up with the suggestion of replacing it with a permanent living willow sculpture. I rang Beryl, who was instantly enthusiastic and who immediately had various very useful ideas about the proposed new sculpture. She felt that it would be best done in a sitting, howling position which would lend itself better to the way that living willow wants to grow. She also suggested that, rather than having a sculpture that you simply stood and admired, the sculpture could be constructed in such a way that it was inter-active, in other words so that it was hollow inside with openings at the front in the space between the front legs and at the tip of the tail so that people could actually get inside it. Beryl said that she would produce some drawings for us to have some idea of what she had envisaged. The drawings, and the quality of Beryl’s website was enough to convince the person in CCW who held the purse stings to proceed with the project, provided the price was right. Beryl produced a very favourable quote to supply the materials for the sculpture and to construct it, and the deal was clinched and an order issued but with a tight deadline for when the project had to be completed and invoiced (end of financial year). On the appointed day, Beryl arrived in Maentwrog with everything required to construct the wolf, a plethora of bits and pieces of willow poles, tree tying twine, scissors, metal bars for making holes, secateurs, the ground mat for mulching the ground, knives, buckets, watering cans, in fact everything that was required. The wolf was erected and complete within 5 days, quite an achievement especially since it required over 400 8 inch deep holes to be made a regular intervals in rocky ground as the sculpture progressed. She was lucky with the weather during that week, but I had the definite impression that Beryl would have carried on working whatever the weather, as the deadline for completion was rapidly approaching. All in all, because of Beryl’s well organised approach, the project went smoothly and efficiently as planned and was completed and invoiced as per the deadline. Now 5 weeks later, and following a long period of dry weather, the willow poles which make up the wolf sculpture are all growing leaves and a mist of green is developing around the skeletal structure and filling it out. Beryl has kindly agreed to return to replace any poles that don’t strike, and to help us carry out the first trim on the wolf, necessary annually to keep it in shape. It was a pleasure working with Beryl on the project, both in terms of her very pleasant company, her in depth knowledge about the materials she’s dealing with and her efficiency and organisation. The project was completed on time and to budget, and we were left with detailed instructions on caring for the sculpture, especially in its first year.”

Doug Oliver – Senior Reserve Manager Country Side Council for Wales (CCW), 2010

Brookfield Day Nursery - Living Willow Tunnel

“As a setting we have recently had a willow tunnel constructed in our garden. Beryl was extremely helpful with the advice she gave and the best situation it should be in. The speed that the dome was built was incredible and the whole process was not intrusive to the daily running of the setting. The willow tunnel is looking fantastic and Beryl is great with providing reminders as to how to care for it – the children are really enjoying the new creation and we look forward to Beryl returning to expand on our existing tunnel!”

Honi Langford-Archer, Manager, Brookfield Day Nursery, Garthmyl. 2010