Past Remains

A view of yesterday from today

The Willow Man, Somerset Levels, Somerset

I took these photos through the coach windows whilst travelling on the M5 motorway in 2007. Not really intending to add them to my website (only having two pics), I really love this giant man seemingly striding across the fields. It was a complete and delightful surprise when I spotted him...and, since I discovered his history, I reckon he'll be a good addition to the oddities that can be found in the British countryside.

Not to be confused with the Wicker Man (which can be seen in the film of the same name, taken from a pagan sacrificial ritual), the Willow Man is a 40ft high sculpture, which was commissioned by South West Arts to mark the millenium and the importance of willow in the local ecology and craft tradition of the Somerset Levels.  Created by the artist Serena de la Hey, she used 30 bundles of locally grown black maul willow, which were woven around a skeletal steel frame. The sculpture in the photos is not the original one, as that was destroyed in an arson attack in 2001, and subsequently rebuilt surrounded by a protective moat.

Taken from Serena's website...

"Willow Man has become a regional icon, representative of Willow Industry and creativity in the South West. Her work ranges from the figurative to the abstract but retains an intrinsic sense of place. This is reflected in a strong identification with landscape, local materials, traditional working methods and the ways of life of local people."

As a photographer (and artist too), who has that same sense of place with my work, I see the Willow Man as representing how mankind settled here thousands of years ago, living with the landscape and making use of it's unique resources. It's wonderful! :)

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