Willow Sculpture Celebrates Graduate Success

23 September 2010

Laura Ratcliffe- Alumni Officer

Alumni Officer Laura Ratliffe hosts the unveiling of the willow sculpture 'Linking Forms' on the Kedleston Road site.

This is a very significant event for the University as it is being created on the Derby Campus as a lasting reminder of graduate success

Laura Ratcliffe, Alumni Officer.

Two top national willow-weaving sculptors, and Derby graduates, who have made their names crafting amazing art pieces across the UK, have teamed up for the first time to create an absorbing new sculpture championing graduate success at the University of Derby.

The original outdoor sculpture by Laura Ellen Bacon and Rachel Carter named 'Linking Forms' is set in the front lawn of the University of Derby's Kedleston Road site and will be unveiled at a special ceremony on Tuesday 28 September  by the University's Chair of Governing Council, Dianne Jeffrey.

University of Derby Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Coyne said: "It is a real pleasure and source of great pride for the University to be showcasing the work of these talented artists. They will create a piece of art that reflects the values of the University but will also change and evolve over time.

"The use of natural willow and the expectation that the form may be changed, extended and re-worked over time as the willow matures and ages, will itself mirror the natural evolution of a university such as ours. I am familiar with their work elsewhere and I am genuinely excited by the prospect of it greeting me to work each day."

The design concept echoes the University logo of three hills and is made up of:

  • 500 pieces of six feet long sustainably sourced, willow strands, threaded through the holes in the metal structures. The willow represents the flow of students and graduates through the University and if laid end to end the willow would stretch to approximately 11 miles.

  • Three red powder coated metal structures, which in total are 3.6 metres long, two metres high and represent the solid foundations of the University. Ilkeston based HTF Stainless Steel Fabrications created and installed the steel structures. Derby based AH Allen supplied the steel and Ilkeston based company, Goldbury Coatings, powder coated the steel. The result of sourcing raw materials from nearby suppliers has put approximately £4,500 back in to the local economy.

Both artists are from the Derby area and Laura appeared on TV's Countryfile with her willow pieces, while Rachel was a star at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show. And despite the current difficult economic climate, both graduates have gone on to forge sound and innovative businesses in the region.

It has been a challenge to ensure everything is in place for the unveiling on  28 September , and in the run-up to the event, Laura and Rachel will be busy weaving their unique willow shaped sculpture, using the red metal structures as central spines in the finished piece.

The contemporary sculpture, designed and created in willow and steel by the Derby graduates, will inspire both new and existing students alike. The launch event has been timed to take place as part of Freshers' Fortnight when thousands of new students embark on their journey at Derby.

University of Derby Alumni Relations Officer, Laura Ratcliffe said: "This is a very significant event for the University as it is being created on the Derby Campus as a lasting reminder of graduate success.

"Both Laura and Rachel have gone on to enjoy wonderful careers since graduating from Derby and we are delighted they have joined forces to produce this eye-catching sculpture."

Here is more detail on both artists:

Laura Ellen Bacon works primarily with willow and other coppiced materials, to create magnificent sculptural pieces inspired by nest-like forms. Laura graduated from the BA (Hons) Applied Arts course at the University of Derby in 2001.

Since then she has won awards from Jerwood Contemporary Makers and The Craft Council and has exhibited nationwide including Somerset House, London. Laura created Woven Space in Chatsworth Gardens in 2009, at the invitation of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire and the Chatsworth House Trust. The Duke is the Chancellor of the University of Derby.

Rachel Carter designs and creates sculptural pieces for garden or landscape settings, using mild steel and willow. A graduate from the University of Derby's 3D Sustainable Design and Practice course (now BA (Hons) Applied Art and Design), she has a studio/workshop in Ilkeston, Derbyshire, with five other designer/makers. Together, they make up the collective group 'Shed 2 Studios'.

Alongside her commissioned work, she carries out community based work as a visiting artist, teaching and demonstrating a variety of workshops encouraging the use of a sustainable practice. She also exhibited at this year's RHS Chelsea Flower Show with the 'Green Garden' project.

For further information please contact Alumni Relations Officer Laura Ratcliffe on 01332 591368 or 07768 091248, or email l.ratcliffe@derby.ac.uk.

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