Life-Sized Stick Sculpture Coming this June to Cape Cod
Imagine walking through wispy natural forms that look like they were built by forest elves. Starting on June 30, you don't have to imagine. That's when the one-of-a-kind stick sculpture by the internationally acclaimed sculptor Patrick Dougherty opens on the grounds of Highfield Hall and Gardens Opens a New Window. in Falmouth.
The beautifully restored 19th-century estate is the latest location to host the artist as he creates whimsical, life-sized masterpieces woven together entirely out of sticks and small saplings that the artist gathers from his farm in upstate New York. Once complete, the artwork will reside on the front lawn of Highfield Hall.
Watch the creation
Dougherty, who has created 301 of these organic works around the globe over the last 30 years, doesn't do the work alone. Starting the first week of June, several members of Highfield's garden crew and a small army of volunteers will help with the build, which takes about three weeks. There are no power tools; instead, the structure is built using ancient weaving methods which create delicate-looking work that is actually quite strong and able to withstand normal weather and visitor interaction.
Visit Highfield Hall from June 3-21 to watch the community effort as simple forms take shape and are transformed into majestic artwork. And you'll be the first to get a glimpse of the final creation! Dougherty does not pre-plan the artwork ahead of time. He spent time in the area over the last year drawing inspiration from the coastal landscapes, and is building the sculpture on the spot to blend in with natural surroundings. He creates all his artwork in this organic way, taking cues from the environment, so you'll be one of the first to see how Cape Cod inspired him.
Explore the sculptures
Starting on June 30, as part of the museum’s annual summer open house celebration, the finished sculpture will be open to the public. You can walk alongside the primitive yet sturdy structure that looks almost soft to the touch because of the precision in weaving methods.
Admire the artwork, take a selfie, and watch as kids undoubtedly squeal in delight as they run through forms that look like giant play spaces out of fairytale storybooks. While you don't need to rush over in June, you will need to visit sooner rather than later if you want to see the one-of-a-kind work. Dougherty's sculpture will remain on the grounds of Highfield Hall for as long as it lasts naturally (about two years).
Stroll the grounds of Highfield Hall & Gardens
While admiring the stick art, be sure to check out the estate museum - one of the few remaining examples of Stick-style Queen Anne architecture in New England - and the surrounding lush gardens.There are docent-led tours throughout the mansion and gardens, or you can stroll at your own pace. Bring a picnic lunch to enjoy on an outdoor terrace or on one of the garden benches.
Meanwhile, the meticulously landscaped gardens offer formal, European-style spaces, and more natural wildflower patches, too. There are also several miles of walking trails in the adjoining Beebe Woods, as well as the picturesque Punch Bowl pond, located deep within the shaded paths.
Photo Credit: Double or Nothing (2011) Washington University, St. Louis, MO. Photo: Chandler Curlee