By Sophie Courtiour
Sophie Courtiour is a Somerset-based willow sculptor, who fell under the spell of willow as a traditional, local and sustainable medium. She has spent the last decade creating dynamic large-scale pieces in Britain and abroad. She has been inspired to meet the challenge of creating two monks in flowing habits to walk in the cloister.
In their own words ...
I was delighted to be invited to make a sculpture for the abbey’s summer exhibition and to meet the challenge of creating two monks in flowing habits.
I am a willow sculptor based in Somerset. Given my joint passion for art and the environment, it was inevitable that I would fall under the spell of willow sculpture. Using a local and sustainable, yet traditional material, I have spent the last decade using willow to create dynamic large-scale pieces. I have completed a number of commissioned sculptures in England and overseas, from private pieces for individuals to public outdoor sculptures and architectural works. My abstract willow sculptures have been received with critical acclaim, and featured in national publications and gardening magazines.
Having lived in rural areas for most of my life, I began experimenting with willow from an early age. I specialise in living willow projects such as the Leaping Deer near Ilminster and the Beast of the Blackdowns, both of which were created in collaboration with Stefan Jennings. In 2011, we completed a unique piece as part of the regeneration of Longrun Meadows, Taunton. The ‘Green Cathedral’ measures 30 x 16 metres (98ft x 54ft) and is made from living Somerset willow, which is unique in its ability to ‘green’ over time. The piece is used for picnics, performances, yoga classes, and other public gatherings. I have recently made a figural sculpture for Cedars Lawn, Wells Cathedral School.
In addition to my personal and commissioned work, I enjoy facilitating willow sculpture workshops and demonstrations for aspiring artists and community members. In my spare time, I lead projects for children in schools throughout Somerset, and hold courses for all ages and abilities.