Patrick Dougherty

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Last year is now a blur of amazing memories and you may have noticed we were so busy we have not had a chance to post about our adventures. Hopefully we can catch up on some of the news from 2017 in the next few instalments.

First on our minds was our time spent working with Patrick Dougherty. If you aren't familiar with this incredible man you MUST take a look at his web site or google him. Be prepared to be AMAZED! 

 
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In June 2017 we volunteered to work on a project called 'Monumental Dougherty' at the Montreal Botanical Gardens - Jardin Botanique. This event was created, designed and built by land art sculptor Patrick Dougherty, an artist from North Carolina who builds massive, whimsical, sculptures all over the world using indigenous materials, his 'stick works'.

It was the chance of a lifetime for us and an experience we will never forget. Our friend and fellow "stick geek" Lene Rasmussen of Lakeshore Willows arranged for the three of us to work for three days...in the rain, cold, sun and heat, on ladders and on our knees, we worked side by side with Mr. Dougherty and his team. This incredible artist is a kind, calm, patient and humble man who's lifetime of work consists of over 275 unique, animated, imaginary, extrordinary structures made entirely, from top to bottom, with sticks. 

 
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Monumental Dougherty consists of three installations. The one we worked on was loosely designed on the shape of a celtic knot, with interlocking 'rooms' joined by a maze of woven willow walls and arches, all swirling and whirling as if it was about to lift off from the ground and spin up into the clouds.  

 
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Mr. Dougherty and his crew constructed two other structures while they were on the site in Montreal. The first was built as an interactive framework for visitors to work on over the summer using willow rods to fill in the walls. The third, which was built after we left, was an incredible series of buildings, a sort of twisted, domed village, with one monolithic, multi-domed, willow worshiping cathedral in it's centre. 

 
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  photo courtesy Conrad Bertrand

photo courtesy Conrad Bertrand

 

This three day experience was a huge '10 out of 10' for Madame Twig I & II! These structures will deteriorate over time, lasting 2 - 3 years in our climate, so if you have the chance don't miss the opportunity to visit them, they are truly remarkable!

 
  photo courtesy Conrad Bertrand

photo courtesy Conrad Bertrand

J & J In the UK - Part Three - Melanie Bastier

Some of the most memorable days during our trip to the UK earlier this summer were spent with exceptional willow weaver Mel Bastier of Out to Learn Willow. Mel is an extremely creative and talented weaver who has made it her mission to spread the word about willow throughout her home country of Wales. Living willow, basketry, willow sculpture, hurdles, willow structures and coffins keep her busy all year. She holds classes and workshops for private groups, schools and community organizations. Mel has been featured in magazines and blogs and she has worked on some high profile projects including the Coronation Arches, six massive willow arches forming a 30ft walkway marking each of the six decades the Queen has remained on the throne.

 Mel on top of one of the arches.

Mel on top of one of the arches.

 The Coronation Arches installed outside Windsor Castle.

The Coronation Arches installed outside Windsor Castle.

 Edward Glew of  Blithfield Willowcrafts  worked with Mel on the arches. We spent three days with Eddie in his workshop in Rugeley, Staffordshire. Eddie is a great teacher and has a huge talent for weaving. We learned so much with him in our three days and enjoyed his posh biscuits too! 

Edward Glew of Blithfield Willowcrafts worked with Mel on the arches. We spent three days with Eddie in his workshop in Rugeley, Staffordshire. Eddie is a great teacher and has a huge talent for weaving. We learned so much with him in our three days and enjoyed his posh biscuits too! 

 Mel makes many sculptures of dried and living willow for children's playgrounds and gardens. 

Mel makes many sculptures of dried and living willow for children's playgrounds and gardens. 

 Some of Mel's willow sculpture. 

Some of Mel's willow sculpture. 

 A garden butterfly sculpture. 

A garden butterfly sculpture. 

 Gorgeous colours and textures.

Gorgeous colours and textures.

 Dried willow basketry.

Dried willow basketry.

Our classes with Mel were held at her home in Ogmore by Sea, with beautiful views of the ocean right outside her door. We felt immediately at home with Mel and her family were wonderful hosts for the week. 

 Lunch on Mel's terrace. 

Lunch on Mel's terrace. 

 During our BIG week of weaving with Mel, we created a full size willow coffin. It took a lot of weaving from the two of us and massive patience from Mel to complete this project in 4 1/2 days. We are really pleased with the result and hope to visit with Mel again, maybe willow sculpture next time, eh Mel? 

During our BIG week of weaving with Mel, we created a full size willow coffin. It took a lot of weaving from the two of us and massive patience from Mel to complete this project in 4 1/2 days. We are really pleased with the result and hope to visit with Mel again, maybe willow sculpture next time, eh Mel? 

J & J in the UK - Part Two "The Beauty of South Wales"

While in the UK we spent a glorious week at Ogmore-by-Sea, a small village in the Vale of Glamorgan on the Heritage coast of south Wales west of Cardiff.

Dormy Coachhouse, backing onto the commons of Ogmore-by-Sea.

Our accommodation for the week was a very special little stone cottage called "Dormy Coachhouse", that backed onto the River Ogmore. This lovely building was built in the 19th century and was originally used as the clubhouse for the Southern Down Golf club. In 2009, Kathryn and Trevor Morris converted the building into a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom self catering holiday rental.

Much of the original charm was carefully preserved in the coach house. 

Our very own garden outside the kitchen door with a view of the River Ogmore and a glimpse of the sea.

We were very comfortable during our stay in Wales and especially thrilled to discover our backyard was filled with horses, sheep, donkeys and swans.

Dinky the Donkey at the kitchen window. 

The area from  Ogmore estuary north up the river is common land where animals graze freely and people roam on foot, bicycle and horseback over hiking trails along the river, down to the dunes and beaches, on coastal footpaths and through towns and villages all over South Wales. The horses and donkeys belong to Ogmore Farm Riding Centre, open to the public for treks to the dunes and beach nearby. Ogmore Farm sits adjacent to the ruins of Ogmore Castle, built in the early 12th century where the River Ogmore meets the River Ewenny. A hop, skip and jump over some stepping stones by the ruins, preferably at low tide, takes you to Merthyr Mawr, an enchanting village of thatched roofed cottages. Or, if you prefer, a walk over a bridge and through the common pasture gets you there too, with the lessor threat of stepping in manure rather than slipping off rocks and getting wet! 

A brave dog hopping the stepping stones by Ogmore Castle ruins.

A story book thatched cottage at Merthyr Mawr.

Now please forgive the two farm girls from Ontario while we indulge in some equine memories of Ogmore-by-Sea...

Cherry in front of the castle ruins.

Thundering hooves woke us up one morning.

Off for a trek on the beach.

Just horsing around.

Two handsome boys.

Horse lovers paradise.

Our favourite little mare.

Kisses for carrots!