Community to weave a new WillowSpace sculpture at Oxford Brookes University

Hands weaving  a willow sculpture
Hands weaving a willow sculpture. Photo: Lilli Tranborg

A community art project is set to bring people together to create a new willow sculpture in one of Oxford Brookes University’s pollinator flower meadows.

Lilli Tranborg, a Fine Art Masters student, has designed the WillowSpace sculpture. She hopes to build the structure with the help of Oxford Brookes staff and students, children from the nearby Windmill Primary School, and members of the local community.

WillowSpace will be installed in the flower meadow, in the central courtyard at the University’s Headington Campus. It will measure six metres around the outside, 4.2 metres inside and be 1.6 metres high at its tallest point. 

The meadow is planted with pollinator flowers beneficial to wildlife and provides a space for students, staff and the community to relax and enjoy nature. The space is part of the university’s Biodiversity Strategy and also aims to support staff and student wellbeing. WillowSpace will enhance the beauty of the meadow, sitting among the pollinator flowers and creating a safe and sheltered space for students and staff to meet and encourage collective creativity and environmental learning. 

Lilli, who specialises in creating natural spaces for citizen science and art projects, said: “I was inspired by the flower meadow and I’m excited about engaging with schools and community groups, working creatively and socially together, outdoors, in nature, co-creating a space we can call our own.”

The design of the structure is circular, like a clock or an ancient stone circle. “The idea is to create a space without hierarchy­­­ – a space to discuss environmental issues,” says Lilli. 

It will be accessible via paths across the meadow - including a wheelchair accessible ramp. 

The sculpture will be created during weaving workshops on Friday 14 July, with children from Windmill Primary School taking part in the morning. The children will also take part in activities from the Butterflies Under Pressure initiative run by Dr Casper Breuker from Oxford Brookes and Dr Melanie Gibbs from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology. Butterflies Under Pressure helps children to learn about butterflies, moths and caterpillars and their habitats. 

Oxford Brookes University students and staff and members of the local community will take part in the workshops in the afternoon. 

Each workshop lasts two hours and participants will have the chance to learn the basics of weaving by making a fish shaped from willow  before contributing to building the WillowSpace sculpture. 

Find out more about the WillowSpace project and book onto a weaving workshop.

Photo: An image showing what the WillowSpace sculpture will look like. By Lilli Tranborg