WOOLLY LAIRS & Wild Follies
Sustainable Stickwork sculptor weaves remarkable art.
Patrick Dougherty’s stick story tells a tale of incredible measure. The artist, who sets forth from his hand-honed log cabin in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, travels incessantly, creating Stickwork sculptures fashioned intricately from thousands of woody sapling branches.
His wild lairs, fantastic follies and architectural snares may nest, cocoon or weave among groves of trees; punctuate a meadow; or lash around city buildings.
He is celebrated the world over for his phenomenal, transient art and revered for creating rustic beauty and inherently sustainable works that inspire, delight and surprise viewers.
Patrick’s organic sculptures use simple ephemeral materials, sourced locally and incorporated to reflect the same life cycle as the sticks themselves.
“Ultimately, my work disintegrates and fades back into the landscape, becoming mulch for new life,” he notes.
Patrick has relished the arduous work, knowing it also encourages a true sense of community. He treasures collaborations with craft councils, talented artisans, enthusiastic
“THERE IS ALWAYS A primal draw TO PICKING UP A STICK AND BENDING IT.”
volunteers, and supporters in private to public organizations. His renown spans over three decades, with nearly 265 unique commissions and no end in sight, given bookings that extend now several seasons in advance.
This spring, Patrick completes his tribute to Greek architecture, situating a “Temple to the Winds” folly beneath a monkeypod tree in a national tropical botanical garden in Kauai, Hawaii.
When asked what he feels when creating in this medium, he says, “There is always a primal draw to picking up a stick and bending it. Inklings of childhood come full focus, and then one feels awareness of a deep human past.”
Though Patrick’s remarkable Stickwork is designed to fade within its landscape over time, like the best works of art, his creations leave an indelible memory.
LEFT: Environmental artist Patrick Dougherty and a crew of some 300 volunteers collaborated to create “Lean
on Me,” a visually poetic cluster of wood structures woven from willow and ironwood from saplings in the arboretum of Saint John’s University in Minnesota. Photo by Thomas O’laughlin. ABOVE: Exotic strawberry guava and rose apple saplings span an impressive 20 feet long by 30 feet wide by 30 feet high to bid aloha as the “Na Hale ‘Eo Waiawi” installation graces the entry to The Contemporary Art Museum of Honolulu, Hawaii. Photo by Paul Kodama. RIGHT: Patrick Dougherty’s limited-edition monograph, Stickwork, is written by Patrick himself and contains over 200 pages of beautiful photos, plus anecdotes and insights into his methods and his art.
ABOVE: Rustic royal fantasy in a splendid “Summer Palace” sits amid the lush Morris Arboretum at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “I love this
piece … it started as a so-called ‘snail shell’ in my garden and turned into a Dr. Zhivago fantasy. I will be working with them again this spring 2015.” Photo by Rob Cardillo. OPPOSITE, TOP: Amusing “Ain’t
Misbehavin’ ” inspires child’s play for all at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South
Carolina. “The heads face off at various directions looking down the intersections.”
Photo by Zan Maddox. MIDDLE: “Call of the Wild” creates sharp contrast towering upwards of 18 feet above the reflective pool at the Museum of Glass: International Center for Contemporary Art in Tacoma, Washington. “My sculpture used the reflective pool as a mirroring image in honor of the Museum of Glass.” Photo by Duncan Price. BOTTOM: “Standby” greets travelers at Raleigh-durham
International Airport in Raleigh, North Carolina. “I had to craft a piece of art to attract
viewers but be situated near a parking deck not to cause utter chaos.” Photo by Jerry Blow.