Sculptor weaves new exhibition at Welbeck

Sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon photographed by Alun Callender

Using silver birch gathered from around the vast Welbeck estate in Sherwood Forest and willow from Somerset, artist Laura Ellen Bacon is creating a huge, new, ‘human-scale’ sculpture to twine around the ground floor at The Harley Gallery.

Opening on July 28 and running until October 7, ‘LAID’ will be abstract in design although the sculpture is loosely inspired by hedge laying and the complex internal spaces of a hedge. Its monumental, site-specific scale will allow visitors to enter the sculpture and wander within its nest-like intimacy for an immersive experience that displays the intricacy of Bacon’s work.

Using many thousands of branches, the entire installation will be made by hand using natural materials. Bacon and a small team of helpers will knot, weave, twist and plait the birch and willow over hundreds of hours to create a form at once strange and familiar, straddling the natural world and the man-made.

Laura Ellen Bacon: “I’m fascinated by enclosures, including hedges and the ancient craft of hedgelaying. It’s the life-seeking sap that inspires me most, how the hedge responds to the skilfully wielded, fierce blow of the billhook – and flourishes as a result.”

LAID will be Laura Ellen Bacon’s largest ‘woven space’ in a gallery setting for nearly four years. It continues her work in making raw materials into large-scale artworks, in both interior and landscape settings. She works with predominately natural materials and her bare hands, her works embrace, surround or engulf architectural and natural structures and have inspired artists working in other mediums.

Composer Helen Grime was commissioned by the Barbican to compose a new piece for the London Symphony Orchestra which was conducted by Sir Simon Rattle. Called ‘Woven Space’ it took its name and inspiration from a work by Bacon that was installed in the famous garden at nearby Chatsworth.

In 2017 Bacon was shortlisted for the BBC Woman’s Hour Craft Prize. Her work has been commissioned by Chatsworth House Trust and the Holburne Museum, Bath.  She has had exhibitions at Ruthin Craft Centre and Roche Court.