Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork sculptures look like something from a fairy tale. Fantastical and whimsical, this outdoor art pulls you in.
Born in Oklahoma, Patrick Dougherty has installed hundreds of his Stickwork sculptures around the world, including Asia, Europe, Canada, and the United States.
The tallest: 50-foot-high chambers at a sculpture park in Ireland. The largest: A 16-room labyrinth on the grounds of a castle in France.
His designs bring art and nature together by weaving tree branches and saplings to form larger-than-life structures with names inspired by the surroundings.
Depending on weather conditions, Stickwork sculptures can last for two years or more.
One of the sculptures was built in Springfield, Massachusetts in June 2012. “Room by Room” was still standing in August 2014.
Made from nearly 8 tons of pin cherry and black birch saplings, this sculpture at the Springfield Museums pays homage to Dr. Seuss.
Many of the Stickwork sculptures have winding passages through the structure.
In Salem, Massachusetts, “What the Birds Know” frames the Gardner-Pingree House.
At 22 feet high, the sculpture – made from beech, American buckthorn, and Norwegian maple saplings – looks like giant nests built by birds.
Stickwork sculptures take three weeks to complete with the help of local volunteers.
Months in advance, Patrick Dougherty visits a site – like Highfield Hall & Gardens in Falmouth, Massachusetts – to get a sense of the place and sketch concepts for the Stickwork sculpture.
“A Passing Fancy” is 17 feet high and built from 19,000 pounds of willow.
As a volunteer, you can help Dougherty build his sculptures: creating the frame, bending the twigs, and trimming the saplings.
If you can, visit the same Stickwork more than once, as the sculpture’s appearance changes.
Ultimately, Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork sculptures are ephemeral. When the sticks become brittle and break, the structure is dismantled.
There may be a Stickwork sculpture still standing near you. Don’t wait. See it now.
There are no new Stickwork installations because the Stickwork team has retired after a 40-year career. Just like Stickwork, it was fun while it lasted.
Visit Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork website to see other featured work.
See more Places to Go:
Coit Tower Murals
East Coast Lighthouses
Where to Buy Authentic Native American Jewelry
Musée de l’Orangerie
Cape Cod Hydrangea Festival
Places unexpected. Bakes for home bakers. Books overlooked. Find your new favorite thing.