Anna Pope recording memories of withy pot making

Withy Lore receives funding to document the withy pot craft

Posted on: 21st February 2024 No Comments

We are delighted to share the brilliant news that we have received funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, FEAST CornwallCornwall Community Foundation, the St.Aubyn Foundation and the Fishmongers Company for the Withy Lore project. With thanks to this funding Storylines will be working with artist Anna Pope to capture, preserve and share stories and knowledge about the withy pot craft. Material collected will be shared through film, illustration, audio, photography art and storytelling, culminating in an exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum from 10th March – 22nd June 2025.


holding withy pots

Anna and Sarah with Tom Chambers and their finished pots

Over the past year of developing this project and spending time with some of the few remaining withy pot makers, we have become completely captivated by this craft. Watching as willow is harvested before being skillfully shaped into a practical and strong pot, is quite an art to behold. This skill was something we heard a lot about through our previous project ‘Guardians of the Reef’ in 2017/2018, and always been something we wanted to explore more. We’ve even had a go at making ourselves, giving us a different perspective. Withy pot making is now  classified as ‘critically endangered’ on the Red List of Endangered Crafts, meaning it is at serious risk of no longer being practised in the UK. There is therefore an urgency to document and support this fascinating craft and its heritage, that is deeply connected to our relationship with the natural world.


Traditionally made over winter months when the withies are most pliable, the craft is connected to the seasons. This cyclical pattern of making and fishing roots us in nature, a relationship which is arguably being lost. Withy pots are also completely biodegradable, making them an interesting vessel through which to explore our relationship with the environment.

Calling for participants

Barry mundy who is experienced in the withy pot craft

Barry Mundy in Mullion Cove

We have lots of exciting plans over this next year and welcome people to get in touch if they’d like to be involved. Although we have identified a handful of remaining pot makers, we are sure there are people with memories of this craft we don’t yet know about and would love to connect with. We’ll also be taking on some new volunteers to support the project.

Oral Histories and films

We will be conducting a series of oral history interviews (lovely long chats with an audio recorder on!) and creating a series of films which document pot making and share personal histories. These recordings will be archived in full at Kresen Kernow, preserving them for future generations. We will be sharing the films, audio extracts and transcribed stories as part of the exhibition.

Community installation

We are looking forward to holding a series of events for those interested in withy pots to come together, share, and contribute to a large installation. This will be inspired by an archive photograph where clusters of withy pots appear like barnacles along the coastline. It will showcase different pot styles and represent the evolution of the pot. Generations will work together on some barnacles, as skills are passed down, as they have been for generations,

anna popes artwork about the withy pot craftIllustrations and jewellery

We’re delighted to continue working with talented artist Anna Pope, who has researched this craft extensively through her previous project Jewelwithy. Anna will produce a series of illustrations that share pot designs from around the South-West, highlighting key differences and similarities between withy pots. The exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum will also enable Anna to showcase her beautifully crafted story about the withy pot craft, illustrated with prints and etched brooches.

Cornwall College media and photography

To involve a younger generation, we’ll be supporting Cornwall College students from Camborne with a live brief to document a local withy pot maker through film and photography. This film will become part of the exhibition, where students will return to capture the opening event and make a second film.

School workshop

It’s important to us to engage people of all ages, so later this year we’ll be going into Marazion Primary School to deliver a workshop with year 6 children. Joined by local withy pot makers, children will be immersed in withy pots and explore their heritage and future through creativity and story. The results of this workshop will be exhibited at the Royal Cornwall Museum in 2025.

Withy Lore exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum

We are really excited to be collaborating with the brilliant Royal Cornwall Museum team to produce the Withy Lore exhibition which will run from 10th March – 22nd June 2025. Having been allocated the large Art Gallery (recently host to the Lego Lost at Sea exhibition) we have big plans for an interactive, thought provoking, story filled exhibition. Alongside the exhibition will also be a range of engagement and events.

Volunteering Opportunities

We look forward to bringing on new volunteers to support this project. These will be varied and focus on providing young people with experience and learning opportunities.

Into the future

In the development of this project we’ve gone huge (so many ideas!!) and then reined it back in. So, this is very much stage 1- a great learning opportunity for us to help shape future work on this theme. To do this we will continue listening, collaborating and developing ideas.

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