It’s not often that you walk through a forest and encounter a life-size statue of a woman shooting a bow and arrow. But that’s exactly what British sculptor Anna and the Willow has crafted. She’s filling the U.K. forests with statues made of willow branches by combining sculpture and basket weaving.
The sculptor says she first discovered willow weaving a few years ago when she decided to take a basketry class. She was inspired to combine it with sculpture, make it life-size, and put it out in nature.
British sculptor Anna & the Willow creates incredible outdoor sculptures made from English-grown rods of willow.
The whole thing is a long process, starting with hand-drawn sketches. Then the sculptor constructs a steel frame, which she covers with woven willow branches. Her amazing sculptures range from women seemingly growing from the forest path to a menagerie of animals.
The sculptor is based in North Yorkshire, a place full of forests and fields. It’s the perfect setting for these statues that almost look like they sprang from nature itself.
“I … have always had a passion for art and the natural world,” said the sculptor. “I studied Zoology at Manchester University but never gave up my art! Working with a natural material opened up a new world and I consequently went on to learn the different techniques of basketry. I enjoy using the traditional skills of basketry and adding my own flare to the process. I work with six varieties of English willow grown in Yorkshire & Somerset.”
As for the sculptures, they’ve been placed around walking paths in the local forests for local hikers and passersby to enjoy.
Using willow branches to weave baskets has been happening for centuries. But it’s not common to see it used for figures. Willow branches are tricky to work with, which only goes to show how much talent and skill it takes to turn them into such beautiful statues.
Each large piece is first planned with hand-drawn sketches before being rendered from bespoke steel frames.
Anna then wraps them with layers of interwoven willow rods, revealing their awe-inspiring forms.
Placed among nature, they look as though they have grown from the forest floor.