The ancient art of basket weaving is believed to be one of the widest spread crafts in the history of human civilization. The process involves weaving pliable, natural materials together to create a variety of useful forms and vessels. Inspired by the craft, a British sculptor known as Anna & the Willow has put a contemporary twist on this timeless technique. She creates incredible nature-inspired sculptures made from English-grown rods of willow.
Anna first started working with willow 10 years ago when she took a weekend sculpting course. “Working with a natural material opened up a new world and I consequently went on to learn the different techniques of basketry,” she says. “I enjoy using the traditional skills of basketry and adding my own flare to the process.” The talented maker crafts a variety of willow baskets and small gifts, but her impressive sculptural work showcases the traditional technique at a whole new level. Each large, outdoor 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.
One 9-foot figurative sculpture, titled The Huntress of Skipton Castle Woods, depicts a woman shooting a bow and arrow. Placed amongst a woodland environment, the remarkable piece looks as though it has grown from the forest floor and could come to life to shoot her arrow at any second. In other works, Anna has sculpted life-sized animals, including a stag and a horse, both of whom appear as though they’re surveying their landscape, frozen in time.