Rediscovering withy pot making on St.Michael’s Mount

Posted on: 5th June 2024 No Comments

Anyone who knows Stephen Mathews will tell you what a treasure trove of local knowledge and stories he holds. A fascinating and modest man, Stephen has a family history of living and working on St.Michael’s Mount that goes back between 300-400 years. Having met Stephen when recording the Gwelan project, we have been fortunate enough to continue capturing some of this fascinating personal history for various projects.

 

making a withy pot now an endangered craft

Stephen making a pot over 30 years ago

When Stephen mentioned his desire to make a withy pot (willow pot to catch shellfish), after a 30 year gap of not making (despite thinking about it every autumn!), Sarah asked if she could join him on this journey. After numerous fascinating visits and discussions, armed with her camera and audio recorder, Stephen’s pot was complete. This then left the task of editing a film which did Stephen’s skill justice and sharing what is a slow process in a relatively short film!

 

Initially learning the withy pot craft from his grandfather, and fishing with them with his father, Stephen has inherited a fascination with this endangered craft. As Stephen pondered over the roots of this interest and set about finding out whether the skill stays with you, we had the privilege of watching on and capturing this through film and audio. As well as including footage of each step of the pot making process, we wanted the film to be personal and heartfelt.

endangered craft of withy pot makingComing across some Pathe news footage from 1949, showing Stephen’s grandfather making a pot on the Mount certainly helped with this. As did Stephen’s openness to reflect and beautiful way with words. Needless to say this film was a joy to make and we’re excited to share it-



Rediscovering Withy Pot making on St.Michael's Mount


This film will become part of a series of films for the Withy Lore project, delivered in partnership with artists Anna Pope and the Royal Cornwall Museum. This project explores the endangered craft of withy pot making. We’ll soon be using Stephen’s film to inspire a workshop at Marazion school. Along with other films, artworks and stories that explore the endangered craft of withy pot making, this film will feature in the Withy Lore exhibition at the Royal Cornwall Museum from the 10th March – 22nd June 2025.

 

This project has been made possible with thanks to funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, FEAST Cornwall, Cornwall Community Foundation, Cornwall Council, the St.Aubyn Foundation and the Fishmongers Company.

Leave a Reply