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Woven in Wonder: Stickwork by Patrick Doughtery

All Things Biltmore • 04/28/21

Written By Jean Sexton

Woven in wonder, Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty is a fascinating outdoor sculpture created exclusively for Biltmore.

Stickwork is a one-of-a-kind installation

“Each of Patrick’s sculptures are one-of-a-kind,” said Travis Tatham, Director of Entertaining and Event Programming, “and that makes his work a perfect fit for Biltmore, which is a one-of-a-kind destination.”

Weaving with willows

Patrick Dougherty with his Stickwork creation for Biltmore
Patrick Dougherty with his Stickwork creation for Biltmore

Working with willow branches, Patrick creates large-scale installations that reflect the beauty and character of the site that hosts them.

Patrick and son Sam Dougherty arrived at Biltmore in mid-March to begin work on the installation in Antler Hill Village along with a truckload of willow branches grown in New York.

Patrick Dougherty with his Stickwork creation for Biltmore
Patrick Dougherty weaves willow branches into his Stickwork sculpture

“Given the large crowds that Biltmore draws, we wanted something palatial and roomy, with walking areas to accommodate large numbers of visitors,” said Patrick. “We aimed for a free-wheeling sculpture to occupy the site with flowing energy.”

Free as a Bird

Mockingbird atop Patrick Dougherty's Stickwork creation for Biltmore
A curious mockingbird checks the progress on the Stickwork sculpture in Antler Hill Village

While working at Biltmore, Patrick and Sam noticed a pair of mockingbirds that came from a nearby holly bush every day to serenade the creation.

“They seemed to be staking a claim to the work,” Patrick said, “so we decided to name the sculpture Free as a Bird in their honor.”

In the past three decades, Patrick has built more than 300 of these large-scale environmental works worldwide, from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States.

Sam Dougherty works on Stickwork creation for Biltmore
Sam Dougherty adds his signature woven edges to the Stickwork creation for Biltmore

Sam, Patrick’s full-time construction assistant since June 2016, has developed into an expert stickworker. His signature can be found on every sculpture, especially in the rolled top edges.

Stickwork is fun for all ages!

Stickwork creation for Biltmore
Some Biltmore staff members had an opportunity to assist Patrick and Sam Dougherty in the creation of the Stickwork sculpture in Antler Hill Village

According to one Biltmore team member who had an opportunity to work with Sam and Patrick as they wove the whimsical sculpture, “Adults have asked ‘what is this?’ but kids walk up and know exactly what to do with it. They say ‘it’s a stickhouse and I need to run through it and play!'”

Discover Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty

Child explores Stickwork sculpture in Antler Hill Village
The new Stickwork sculpture in Antler Hill Village is fun for all ages!

Now through September 30, discover Stickwork by Patrick Dougherty, located in Antler Hill Village near the Outdoor Adventure Center.

This delightful sculpture entitled Free as a Bird invites excitement and exploration for all ages, and is included with estate admission.

Free as a Bird is lit at night, further enlivening the space, especially for those who are enjoying a stay at either of our distinctive hotels or our two private historic cottages.

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