Part Three: A Little Bit About the Mechanics of Patrick Dougherty’s “Stickwork” Environmental Sculptures

Patrick Dougherty at Work

Patrick Dougherty at Work

Article by Thomas Hardy of Vero Communique.

In our last article we wrote about how it took three years for Patrick Dougherty’s “The Royals” Stickwork exhibit at McKee Botanical Gardens to come to be.

While part of this time had to do with collaborative planning, the fact is that Patrick works with a three-year backlog. Every month he is somewhere.

As an example, here is where he is creating his next eight exhibits.

2/2016 – Appleton Museum of Art, Ocala, FL
3/2016 – Atlanta Botanical Garden, Gainesville, GA
4/2016 – Astrid Lindgren Näs, Vimmerby, Sweden
6/2016 – Green Box Arts, Green Mt Falls, CO
8/2016 – Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA
9/2016 – College of Holy Cross, Worcester, MA
10/2016 – Hermitage Museum & Gardens, Norfolk, VA
11/2016 -Private installation, Big Sur, CA

In addition to creating scheduled exhibits Patrick has to travel to sites where he has been invited to create new exhibits.

During these visits he meets with all stakeholders, views the site and accesses the availability of materials required for his sculpture. Since Florida did not have the sticks he needed, as we wrote previously. they had to be procured and trucked in from Double A Willow in Fredonia, New York, which has developed a large impressive nursery to grow shrub willow.

In some cases Patrick has had to use Strawberry Guava.

Strawberry Guava Plant

Strawberry Guava Plant

Or Eucalyptus.

Eucalyptus Leaves

Eucalyptus Leaves

In North Carolina, Patrick has used Red Maple.

Northern Cardinal on Red Maple Twigs

Northern Cardinal on Red Maple Twigs

It is important to note that Patrick is extremely conscientious about environmental stewardship and hopes that his work will inspire others to care as well.

No trees are killed outright in creating his sculptures. The saplings are cut in such a way that they will all re-grow, reproducing more saplings, much as they would after pruning.

When Patrick harvests in the wild, it is always done in areas where the sticks would be cut anyway, such as under power lines, or along highway right of ways; sometimes where a forest needs to be thinned because the undergrowth is too thick and not all the small trees can survive that way.

Basically, Patrick’s work schedule is that he creates his sculpture in three weeks, only taking one weekend off. That leaves him with one week off every month.


Patrick is 70 years old, still climbing up and down scaffolding and lifting and bending. With a three-year backlog, there will be no lack of exercise for this young fellow.

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Thomas Hardy