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Campaign to Save the M5 Willow Man

Campaign to Save the M5 Willow Man

A campaign is being launched to secure the future of the iconic M5 Willow Man who strides alongside the motorway near junction 23 at Bridgwater. Created by artist Serena de la Hey in 2000 as part of The Year of the Artist, The Willow Man was conceived as a temporary structure and now nearly two decades on, it needs a complete rebuild as well as a fund for future maintenance.

Broadcaster and author Toby Buckland says:

“When I heard The Willow Man was under threat I picked up the phone and asked Serena how we could help. Several meetings and a lot of coffee later, a plan was hatched and we commissioned Serena to build a willow sculpture for my 2018 Garden and Harvest Festivals. We can’t bring The Willow Man to the Festival so this was the next best thing
to raise awareness of his plight.”

In a nod to the Willow Man’s roadside location, the festival sculpture – known as ‘The Wonder’ – will be located as a welcome to visitors near the Garden Festival entrance on the driveway at Powderham Castle, in the village of Kenton near Exeter before it is moved to Forde Abbey for Toby’s Harvest Festival in September. Serena is building the sculpture in-situ at the Castle in the run-up to the festival in collaboration with willow artist Stefan Jennings and Toby.

Toby continued:

“For the millions of holiday-makers who visit the West Country The Willow Man is a sign they’ve arrived! For me he’s a symbol I’m nearly of home. If he did disappear it’d be huge loss to our landscape and I’m only too happy to help give him a future.”

Serena said:

“Willow is an ephemeral material, and no-one realised The Willow Man would become a cherished part of the landscape – least of all me – so we have to do something soon or he will be lost.”

You can see The Wonder and meet Serena de la Hey at Toby’s Garden Festival on 27th and 28th April when she will be speaking to festival goers and encouraging visitors to add their own willow embellishments to support the fundraising.

Toby’s Garden Festival, Friday 27th and Saturday 28th April 2018 10-5pm at Powderham Castle, Kenton, Devon
For more information, www.tobygardenfest.co.uk

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