Children’s willow sculptures bring art and nature together on Bridgehead wildlife trail

Pupils at a local primary school have created charming wildlife-inspired features that have pride of place on a popular wildlife trail around the Bridgehead business park in East Yorkshire.

Children from All Saints CE Junior Academy in Hessle visited the Bridgehead site close to the school to see how the art installations they created in a project funded and delivered by Wykeland Group, owner and developer of the business park, have become a landmark on the picturesque woodland walk.

Working with local artist Louis Dorton, Year 4 pupils used pliable willow shoots to create a variety of sculptures depicting animals commonly found locally, such as foxes, deer, owls and rabbits.

The delightful sculptures add to a growing collection of innovative artworks on the nature trail which circles the 50-acre Bridgehead development.

All Saints Headteacher Laura Jackson accompanied three children to see their handiwork in place on the woodland trail and said: “We’ve been working on arts projects for the Bridgehead trail for seven years now and we’ve really benefited from the expertise of artist Louis Dorton and, before him, Liz Dorton.

“The whole class were involved in the project this year and the children loved making the willow sculptures. They developed skills which linked in closely with lots of the learning they’ve been doing.

From left, artist Louis Dorton, Wykeland Group’s Asset Manager John Gouldthorp and All Saints Headteacher Laura Jackson admire the willow animals on the picturesque woodland walk at Bridgehead business park with pupils Arun, Harry and Megan. 

 

“We’re very grateful to Wykeland Group for this project. The children really looked forward to working on it each week.”

Wykeland Asset Manager John Gouldthorp joined the children to view the sculptures. He said: “The woodland trail is very popular and these new wildlife sculptures are a wonderful addition, creating even more interest along the nature trail.

“It’s great that this project has inspired creativity and developed new skills, while also producing attractive works of art to be enjoyed and admired by so many workers at Bridgehead and visitors to the site.”

Artist Louis delivered the arts project to 28 pupils over a series of in-person and virtual sessions, with materials spending time in quarantine before use.

He said: “The wicker sculptures are fantastic – the children did a wonderful job weaving the willow shoots to form the animals from scratch, with just a base and a metal hoop as a starting point. It’s very rewarding to see some of the pupils visiting the artwork in situ.

“It was quite a challenge to deliver this arts project during the pandemic. All the materials would be delivered to the school then spend time in quarantine before the children could go ahead and use them, so the overall project took longer than previous initiatives.”

The Year 4 pupils used pliable willow shoots to create a variety of sculptures depicting animals commonly found locally, such as foxes, deer, owls and rabbits. Picture: Karl Andre Photography.

 

Arun, one of three pupils who visited the display to mark the completion of the project, said: “I really enjoyed learning how to weave the willow to make the different animals. I like all the animals but the owls are my favourite.”

Classmate Megan said: “It was really fun. We started off virtually and then met Louis in person. I learned how to weave the animals and my favourite is the deer.”

The third pupil to visit the art installation was Harry, who said: “It was really fun and I enjoyed making the animals.”

Elaine Burke, Wykeland’s Community Engagement Consultant who managed the project, said: “The Bridgehead arts trail is now in its seventh year and is going from strength to strength.

“The school and artist Louis Dorton did an amazing job to deliver this arts project in very difficult circumstances. This wonderful collection of wicker sculptures is inspired by wildlife and nature on our doorstep and complements existing artworks created by pupils from All Saints and Hessle High School in previous years.”

The 1km Bridgehead woodland trail was planned and delivered by Hull-based Wykeland, working with the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, which manages the woodland pathway and natural habitat on behalf of Wykeland to encourage further wildlife and maintain flora and fauna.

Pictures: Karl Andre Photography.