Beautiful Sculptures for Willow Young Carers

You may remember one of our first ever blog posts was about Ideas for the Inkwell garden. Last year we received some funding to develop the garden and we used it to get a professional designer to come up with a garden plan. TCV (formerly BTCV) had just started working with us too at this point.

At that time, we had no real idea how the garden would develop or how fast things would move, but it seems the idea of a beautiful large scale willow sculpture aswell as a childrens area here at Inkwell is actually going to happen, thanks to a new project we are involved with.

Last month Barnardos Willow Young Carers organised a workshop here at Inkwell in conjunction with Time to Change who campaigns against the stigma associated with mental health issues. Willow Young Carers do invaluable work, working with children who care for a family member affected by a physical or mental health illness, disability or substance misuse problem.

The workshop was hugely successful and everyone was blown away by the contributions and responses from all the young people who were involved. As a result of this success and the very positive outcomes achieved new talks are being held to organise a willow sculpture built and housed permanently in the Inkwell garden. The proposal is to develop an area of the Inkwell garden specially for children and to involve Willow Young Carers in the design and the build. TCV are also closely involved with the plans, as are NHS Leeds who will provide invaluable overall support as well as financial backing.

Inkwell’s contribution, with the wealth of talented artists on site, will be to assist with the design and construction, and with TCV’s immense horticultural and green gym expertise we will both work alongside the children and artists to create something very special and unique.

The overall design for the sculpture has yet to be established so with this challenge, I had a look around the web for some inspiration and to see what is attainable when working with willow. It has certainly been an eye opener and a joy discovering the beauty and versatility of this ancient craft. Here are just some inspirational works already created by talented willow artists, most of which are based here in the UK. These will surely provide us with some food for thought and plenty of ideas. They range from huge scale figurative pieces to floral abstract based and structural pieces, all of which would look just amazing in our garden and certainly be a challenge for the team to build.


In the first blog post about the garden I mentioned Willow sculptor Tom Hare whose work can be seen in outstanding venues such as Kew Gardens and RHS Wisley.We very much admire his work and love the idea of abstract seed heads and flora.


Tom Hare’s beautiful seed sculptures for Kew Gardens


Michelle Cain is an artist based in Wales and whose work was at Glastonbury Festival 2010. The Glastonbury BBC Garden has already provided us with much to aspire to, we all loved the look of it; the perspex with white painted decoration, the mixture of natural materials with man made, and the array of colours used for an outdoor space.

Dancing figures in the BBC garden at Glastonbury 2010

Trevor Leat is another hugely successful willow sculptor in the UK. His work spans from life size animals and figures through to giant willow sculptures spectacularly burned at festivals and events such as The Wickerman Festival, The Edinburgh Hogmanay Celebrations and The Burns Light Festival in Dumfries.
For those of you who have been to one of our bonfire events at Inkwell will know that it is customary for us to burn large sculptures. Please let me assure you that we would NOT burn our beautiful willow sculpture on the bonfire!

Trevor Leat Sculpture

Trevor Leats gigantic sculpture for Burns Night.

Willow Man by Serena de la Hay

If you have ever driven down the M5 you may have noticed the 12 metre (40ft) high Willow Man sculpture by Serena de la Hay. This is the largest willow sculpture in the UK and possibly even the world. It took six weeks to make and used an incredible  30 bundles of willow wrapped around an internal steel structure weighing 3 tonnes.

Stillness in Motion by Olga Zeimska

This beautiful piece is by Ohio Based artist Olga who uses reclaimed willow branches and wire to depict the silhouette of a woman, with flowing branches extending behind her.

Sortie de Cave by Patrick Dougherty

Patrick Dougherty is a weaver extraordinaire, building nest houses by weaving growing saplings into organic structures of beauty, ranging from cocoon like buildings to large scale people. He doesn’t refer to it as art but ‘Stick-work’. Visit Arch Daily  for a good article about him and his work.

“Na Hale ‘o waiawi” – translation : “wild dwellings built from strawberry guava”

We will keep you posted on how the plans develop. This project is very special for all of us as it has given many of us a unique oppurtunity to bring together our skills to create a beautiful space designed with young people involved, and will also be an exciting and very valuable experience for the young people, artists and volunteers we all work with.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.