We just returned from a very exciting 18 day trip to England and Wales. This adventure was all about WILLOW, willow weaving, willow farms and willow sculpture!
Willow weaving dates back centuries in England and has seen a resurgence in recent years. Willow workshops are abundant and many willow farms thrive in the country, especially on the Somerset levels and moors. Our journey began in Staffordshire, with a three day workshop with basket maker Eddie Glew of Blithfield Willowcrafts. Next we were off to Ogmore-by-Sea in south Wales for a week with the lovely Mel Bastier of Out to Learn Willows. On our return to England we stopped at Musgrove Willows, a 90 acre willow farm in Somerset, to see a family run willow business that has been growing willow since 1928. Then finally, a visit to Wakehurst Place to see Tom Hare's fabulous collection of willow sculptures designed for the Millennium Seed Bank. This is the largest international plant conservation program in the world where, coordinated by Kew Gardens in partnership with over 80 countries, they collect, identify, study and save global plant life threatened with extinction. To date they have banked over 13% of the world's plant species in the vaults at Wakehurst Place.
We didn't get to meet Tom (gutted about that, but we promised him we would return) and since he was the inspiration for this trip, we thought we would start part one of our journey with photos of his fabulous sculptures.
Tom Hare is a renowned willow sculptor who works from his studio in Stokes Golding, UK. Tom's talent seems boundless, something we knew when we saw photos of his work, but to see these giant sculptures in person was a pleasure and a privilege. Even at this grand scale the detail of these intricately woven structures is truly remarkable. Each piece is carefully crafted, making the most of the linear quality of willow with pattern and texture. These massive shapes are free flowing, whimsical creations and yet at the same time contained, precise forms. Some of the pieces would appear as if they could come to life at any moment.