The sculptor Patrick Dougherty created the second contemporary art installation in the Ellipse in September 2010, an oval space framed by a double row of pruned hornbeams that forms an aerial hedge. Dougherty, well known for sculptures of woven saplings, responded both to the monumentality and the static quality of the space by adding a series of what he describes as "running figures," or twisted architectural elements, that rise into the trees and pursue each other actively and gracefully around the Ellipse. The sculpture was constructed in 21 days in September with a team of volunteers using a variety of saplings, chiefly maples. It evokes some of the oldest forms of building and garden design and is particularly evocative of the organic or rustic architecture that was a feature of 18th century garden arbors, pavilions, and furnishings, especially in England.
This installation was organized by the Garden and Landscape Studies program at Dumbarton Oaks in cooperation with the Gardens Department.
About the Artist
Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick Dougherty began to learn about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. Beginning about 1980 with small works fashioned in his backyard, he quickly moved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental site-specific installations that require sticks by the truckload. To date, he has built over two hundred such massive sculptures all over the world.
His home base is a handmade house of log in Chapel Hill, North Carolina where he lives with his wife Linda and son Sam. The artist's website is http://stickwork.net/.