Patrick Dougherty is an environmental sculptor who uses tree saplings, trunks and branches to create one of a kind pieces of sculpture.

While the artist lives in North Carolina, he works all over the world. His installation sites are usually, although not always, outdoors and totally make use of local materials.

These are some of the most unusual, stunning, complex and people friendly sculptural pieces you will ever see.
And, they are knowingly built with a finite life span: none will last more than about two years. The branches will deteriorate and the installation will be taken down after a certain period of time which is just fine with the artist!


They are fabulous! When I first saw his work I immediately thought of the work of Andy Goldsworthy: both artists have and feel and a close link to the land; they each construct (mostly) an ephemeral and time sensitive sculpture.

Dougherty’s work, whether small or large scale, indoors or outside, is amazing to watch as it takes shape and for months/years afterward. He just finished an artist-in-residency and installation here at the North Carolina Botanical Garden where I went to see the site in the final days of its construction and creation.

You NEED to go to the Botanical Garden site and scroll down through these images. From start to finish, all in three weeks. From sourcing and cutting and stripping leaves to site plan to erecting scaffolding to hours and hours of labor……to the finished piece.

When I visited the site the piece was still nameless… he says it can often be that way: not until a piece is finished and can be seen in its place does just the right name come to him.
A few days later I was very privileged to be a guest at a small luncheon for him, followed by a talk he gave here in our village. The name of the piece was revealed: “Homegrown.”

Dougherty Collage

Some of the photos I took, watching the installation at the Botanical Garden.

In his talk (he is very relaxed and quite a story teller!) he spoke of a few things he considers before beginning an installation. He begins by thinking of words and their association with the site and place where he will be working; then, on site, he keeps in mind how he first felt when he saw the space… before the talking, the logistics, the potential problems come up. What was his very first impression of the site and space? Then come the thumbnail sketches, followed by the actual logistics. And last there is always a “personal story line”: each site and place has a very personal relationship to the people there.

collage Dougherty

These installations can be seen on his website.


Finally, a short video showing Dougherty at work:

Bending Sticks: The Sculpture of Patrick Dougherty from The Groove Productions on Vimeo.