Willow sculptures delight hospital visitors

Willow sculptor Emma Parkins and Air Arts have just unveiled a major new installation at Royal Derby Hospital.

The trio of badgers takes centre stage in the hospital’s courtyard near the main entrance and are delighting patients and visitors alike.

Air Arts, which was formed in 2007, is a charity promoting health and wellbeing through the arts and arts participation at the Derby Teaching Hospitals.

Its aim is to create a calm and welcoming environment, providing support and reassurance for patients, staff and visitors, enhancing the environment and providing moments of reflection and distraction.

A year ago it commissioned Belper artist Emma to make a large sculpture from willow.  

“After some discussion we decided to go with the theme of British Wildlife.  I chose the badger because of its wonderful markings and character. Also it is an animal rarely seen, so I thought it would be interesting to create one in the centre of the hospital for all to see.  

“Eventually one became a family of three,” said Emma.  

The project presented the artist with many new challenges as it is the largest piece she has made.  

There were lots of logistical issues, such as getting a four metre frame through a small door in a very busy waiting area.  

“Miles Halpin was the fabricator of the metal work and with his experience and logical brain he came up with a way to get the frame through the door and bolt it together on site,” explained Emma.

“Once I started weaving it became evident that people were taking a curious interest in what I was doing. It became a guessing game as to what they would be.  Finally when the white willow was added most people knew.   

“I feel that I have captured the essence and character of the badger.  I want people to smile and feel a sense of comfort when they look at them.  I have had some very positive feedback and I wasn’t expecting how well received they would be.  They are giving people joy in what sometimes can be a time of great stress, sadness and anxiety.” 

The artist says that her sculptures will slowly change and bio-degrade, and be used as a home for many insects, becoming a mini eco system.   

“I love this aspect of willow.  I make eco-friendly art that has very little impact on the planet,” she added.

To see more of Emma’s work and find out about workshops she runs go to http://www.emma-parkins.co.uk