a cathedral built from willow tree saplings by patrick dougherty
a cathedral built from willow tree saplings by patrick dougherty a cathedral built from willow tree saplings by patrick dougherty
nov 08, 2012

a cathedral built from willow tree saplings by patrick dougherty

a cathedral built from willow tree saplings by patrick dougherty image courtesy of melbourne water


patrick dougherty combines his love of carpentry with nature by building large scale sculptures constructed from tree saplings. the latest of what he calls his ‘stickwork’ series, is an architectural monument made from more than 10 tonnes of willow tree branches that sits in melbourne’s federation square. in the australian state of victoria, the willow is considered a weed, known for its dense canopy of thin branches and invasive roots. they also have a heavy leaf fall which often reduces water quality, ultimately effecting the habitat of fish and local wildlifesuch as platypus. 2 million AUD are spent annually on trying to manage their wild growth.

the structure takes its formal cues from the nearby architecture of flinder’s street station and st. paul’s cathedral image courtesy of melbourne water


taking this into account, dougherty utilizes the excessive amounts of willow tree saplings and sticks by weaving them into ‘ballroom’, a structure whose form takes influences from the architecture of the nearby flinders street station and st. paul’s cathedral. over the course of three weeks, the american artist bent the pieces of wood and wove them into formation using only gloves and a pair of secateurs. the resulting construction stands to be entered and engaged with by the public. the materials were supplied by cricket willow and melbourne water, who also sponsored the project. commissioned as part of federation square and creative production services, as part of the public space’s 10th anniversary, ‘ballroom’ is open to the public until early 2013.

the woven structure took three weeks to make image courtesy of melbourne water

general view image by julie renouf courtesy of federation square

the large scale piece invites passersby to enter and engage right image by liz jones

windows and doors allow natural light to filter through the space image by liz jones

the willow tree branches waiting to be transformed

construction phase

left: patrick dougherty arranging branches in place right: construction continues

an assistant working on ‘ballroom’

the sculpture by night image by liz jones

image by liz jones

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