Willow Domes on the Este

Neddernhof, Nr Hamburg, Germany

The work comprises two woven willow domes on the banks of the river Este, in the private estate of Hans Edmund Siemers at Neddernhof, south of Hamburg, Germany.

The domes are made from planted, woven and grafted willow sticks, which are growing and will form one tree in the plan of a figure 8. At the nucleus of each dome is a standing stone in one and a sitting stone in the other. The taller dome has its shoots pruned annually, which sprout at the height of 4 meters. The effect here will be to create light and height. On the smaller dome the shoots are annually woven in, creating a darker more random space, where you can sit and listen to the flow of water nearby. The work is growing and changing and at a certain point will be allowed to go its own way.

Updated 2014

This was the first of 3 works made here in 2002, 2008 and 2014. I was recommended to the family by my late friend Herman Prigann, who I first met at Arte Sella in Italy in 1994. The idea was based on a figure 8 around a standing and sitting stone, and was sited at the far end of the Western boundary of the land close to the river Este and in a rather waterlogged field. The boulders were chosen and placed by Knud Knabe in January during a hard frost and I came in March to weave the two domes over the stones. We got very long (4 m.) recently cut willow sticks from a nearby growers and pushed these into the ground as crossed uprights in the figure 8 plan. The horizontal weaves were from sticks which would die, but the uprights would grow. I gave instructions for the new growth on the smaller dome to be woven in, and on the tall dome, to be pruned on the lower sections.

As a result the smaller dome grew very dense and dark and tangled, while with the tall dome, the strength of the growth went into the stems and this dome has really become strong and healthy. As a result we are now pruning the smaller one to strengthen up the stems. In many places where the uprights cross, the two trees have fused together and in time it is hoped the whole figure 8 will be one tree. The work has to be tended every year and the question asked, ” What does this work need now? Where is it going?” A few years ago it was felt that the South West area of it was not getting enough light so neighbouring birch trees were cut down. Over the last 10 years this piece has gone from a very geometric and architectural shape to something which is much more organic and unpredictable.