Sculpture: Spittin' Image
Artist: Patrick Dougherty
Combining his carpentry skills with his love for nature, Patrick Dougherty began to learn more about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. In 1982 his first work, MapleBodyWrap was included in the North Carolina Biennial Artists' Exhibition sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art. In the following year, he had his first one person show entitled, Waiting It Out In Maple at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. His work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental scale environments which required saplings by the truckloads. During the last two decades, he has built over 150 works throughout the United States, Europe and Asia.
For more information or to contact Patrick, visit his website at www.stickwork.net.
Patrick Dougherty, 2001
In 1996 I worked at the South Carolina Botanical Garden to build a large-scale sapling sculpture entitled Sittin' Pretty. This work was inspired by Donato Bramate's Tempietto, which was built in Rome in 1502 and has been described as the essence of Renaissance architecture.
Sittin' Pretty was a significant departure from my previous work because it had to stand on its own and could not rely on structural support by intertwining with existing architecture or nearby trees. In addition, it was the first sculpture in which living trees were planted within the woven walls of the work. I imagined that the inclusion of living trees might increase the sculpture's longevity as well as provide a recognizable trace of the sculpture, once the original sapling materials had wasted away. By 2001 Sittin' Pretty had relaxed from a sculpture into a garden feature and consisted of an inner circle of living trees and a series of fatigued, woven arches being borne up by an outer ring of growing samplings.
When I returned to the South Carolina Botanical Garden in February 2001 to build a new sculpture, I was thrilled to see Sittin' Pretty in its new guise as a configuration of living trees. I immediately conceived a new work to be located higher up the hill and overlooking Sittin' Pretty. This work would mimic a Victorian architectural garden folly and would reminisce and replay some of the most successful features of the 1996 work.
The new work, entitled Spittin' Image, used an enormous amount of student energy. Instead of the single-domed core of the original sculpture, Spittin' Image consists of three tall slender towers with stylistic variation in each domed top. These towers are integrated at key points with a keep, a fortified circular wall, and suggest a small woven castle standing knee-deep in a southern garden. Like Sittin' Pretty, the new sculpture has an array of small trees planted within its weaving and as the years go by, these trees will shuck off the walls that contain them and reenergize their hilltop site.