Somerset’s Willow Man, created by artist Serena de la Hey, will benefit from a much-needed facelift this week.
Standing at 12 metres high, with an arm-span of five metres, the willow figure situated next to the M5 near Bridgwater has become a famous landmark for travellers to the South West.
Now the Willow Man’s head and arms are in much need of repair.
“They’re more or less down to the metal framework so I will be going 40 feet up in a cherry-picker to reweave those areas, using local willow,” explains Serena.
“So many people have come up to me asking when he’s going to be repaired so I’m very happy that we can finally go ahead with this work. Some areas haven’t been touched for 11 years, so it’s inevitable that they need repairing. This is fairly typical for artworks made from natural materials.”
The cost of the refurbishment is around £18,000 and has been met by Hallam Land Management Ltd, Yarlington Housing Group and Sedgemoor District Council.
The willow for the repairs is coming from local willow producers at Stoke St Gregory and local contractors will be on site working with Serena during the week.
Gary Orr, Chief Executive of Yarlington Housing Group, said: “We are delighted to support this project, to demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the local community. Our homes at Kings Down are within sight of the Willow Man, and we look forward to a future in which he continues to play a major part.”
The Willow Man has become a regional icon and a much-loved piece of public art since it was created. Commissioned by Arts Council England in 2000 as part of the ‘Year of The Artist’ project, it has gained national and international recognition. The current figure is the second to be built on the site after the original figure was destroyed by fire in 2001.
Further repair work to other parts of the body will be needed next year and Serena is seeking support from local organisations.
Serena will be live tweeting as work progresses during the week – follow @M5WillowMan on twitter to keep up-to-date.