Joe Hogan has been making baskets at Loch na Fooey since 1978 and in that time has earned a reputation for baskets of the highest quality. The colours in these award winning baskets are those of the natural willows grown at Loch na Fooey.
In 2019 Joe was commissioned by Loewe to make several pods which were displayed at their Spring/ Summer 2019 fashion show in Paris. The commission consisted of 6 extra large pods, all greater than 1 meter in diameter and about 20 smaller sized pods.
Recently Joe has been making nests. The aim has not been to make copies of nests, but rather nest-like objects. In the essay Mossbawn Seamus Heaney remarks, “All children want to crouch into their secret nests….I spent time in the throat of an old willow tree…once you squeezed through it you were at the heart of a different life.”
Joe has subsequently made nests of all shapes and sizes, rekindling his connection to nature, and awakening that joyful surprise when we discover a nest in the wild.
Other thoughts came to his mind. What is it like to be homeless? A cardboard box and a sleeping bag as a human nest. Another type of homelessness is to be cast out from your own place in the world , a migrant in a world obsessed with borders. Amongst the graffiti in the “jungle” near Calais, a phrase, “we borrow the hearts of the migratory birds who do not trouble themselves with borders.”
And finally the importance of ecology, the inter-connectedness of all things living. Long before ecology was ever heard of Chief Seattle spoke about the “great web” and how important it was that we understand that “we did not make the great web, we are merely a strand in it”. And how wrong it might go when we interfere.
Mao Tse Tung had what he thought was a flash of insight around 60 years ago. If the sparrows could be prevented from eating grain then there would be more left for the people to eat. And so began a period of persecution for the sparrows. The level of obedience in China at the time was so great that most of the population joined in the campaign. They used drums to prevent sparrows from landing. As soon as a sparrow stopped to rest they were hunted away and many of them simply died of exhaustion. Millions of sparrows died and they became close to extinction in China.. Did this lead to more grain for the people ? Not exactly. Instead there was a plague of locusts the following year. The locusts had lost their main predator. Grain production collapsed over the next two years and there was a huge famine. Official figures put the death toll of that famine at 17 million people but it is estimated by most experts that the death toll was at least 45 million people. Moreover in order to eradicate the locusts poisonous chemicals were used with the result that many beneficial insects were killed. Some crops had to be hand pollinated.