by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Tuesday 6th November 2012

‘Ballroom’ stickwork sculpture by Patrick Dougherty at Federation Square.  Photo – Julie Renouf.

Stickwork sculpture details.  Photos – Megan Cullen

City commuters will most likely have spotted this incredible structure taking shape at Federation Square in Melbourne in recent weeks… today we thought we’d share a little backstory about this special project!

This impressive stickwork installation is the creation of American artist Patrick Dougherty, who has spent the past 30 years creating incredible sculptural forms made of willow, in high profile locations all over the world.  (A  quick Google image search of Patrick’s work is sure to impress – breathtaking stuff!).  Until now, his work has never been seen in Australia – but it was an invitation from Melbourne event designer Christian Wagstaff which finally enticed Patrick to create a sculpture here in Melbourne.

Passionate about Patrick’s work, which has inspired some of his own event installations over the years, Christian was keen to secure a high exposure site at Federation Square for this very special project.  ‘When we took the management team at Fed Square through a portfolio of Patrick’s work, they were immediately interested’ he says. ‘Fed Square are currently celebrating their 10th year anniversary, so the timing was perfect’.

Once the location was secured, Patrick visited Melbourne towards the end of 2011 to familiarise himself with Federation Square and choose a suitable location for the work. A great deal of time was also spent with Christian Wagstaff and his team, discussing and assessing suitable ‘sticks’ that would be in plentiful supply for the build.

‘Patrick had loads of ideas, but most importantly suggested we speak with some local basket weavers, who in turn put us in contact with a Cricket Willow Farm in Daylesford – a fifth generation family business that has been making Cricket Bats from willow for over 100 years.’ recalls Christian.  The Tinetti family was able to supply an abundant supply of very high quality willow, which would eventually form the backbone of the sculpture.

The project was also fortunate to secure a partnership with Melbourne Water. ‘In Australia many species of willow cause substantial damage to the health of our waterways, so Melbourne Water were also able to supply a plentiful amount of raw materials’ explains Christian.  ‘The project required far more sticks than we ever imagined, so the hunt for sticks was ongoing and arduous. We thought we did very well considering we knew nothing about ‘sticks’ before the project began!’

The design of this magical structure is inspired by many of the surrounding buildings along Flinders Street, Collins Street, Swanston Street and Russell Street in Melbourne’s CBD.   ‘I think that a good sculpture is one that evokes in the viewer a wealth of personal associations’ says Patrick. ‘My viewers see stick castles, lairs, nests, architectural follies; and they remember moments in the woods building forts and hideouts. I hear stories about the Garden of Eden, favourite trees, and secrets about first dates.  I like to spark people’s imaginations and connect them with nature in a surprising way.’  Patrick has affectionately named his Melbourne stickwork sculpture ‘Ballroom’.

Patrick Dougherty worked solidly alongside a team of volunteers for 20 days to realise this ambitious project.   The installation will remain onsite at Federation Square until early 2013.

Stickwork at Federation Square
Flinders Street Amphitheatre
On view daily until early 2013

Patrick Dougherty onsite creating his Melbourne sculpture.  Photo – Megan Cullen

Sculpture interior.  Photo – Megan Cullen

‘Ballroom’ stickwork sculpture by Patrick Dougherty at Federation Square.  Photo – Julie Renouf.

by Lucy Feagins, Editor
Tuesday 6th November 2012


  • Laura B 4 years ago

    oh! I miss Melbourne and it’s surprises!

  • Belinda 4 years ago

    thanks for the back story, Lucy. interesting to read about how they sourced the materials. Wish I was closer to see it.

  • Anna 4 years ago

    oh, i’m super keen to take my smalls in to see this in the next few days while my love has some time off work!

  • Kath W 4 years ago

    Stupendously beautiful.

  • The Yellow Dance Spot 4 years ago

    Stunning, will be taking my little ones to see is ASAP! Thanks for sharing.

  • Margie 4 years ago

    wonderful work – thanks also to Christian Wagstaff for making it happen.

  • Ann 4 years ago

    So wonderful to have this in our Melbourne. Have seen pictures of these in English garden magazines. What a fabulous thing to put in the middle of Fed square. Hard edge architecture vs organic willow. Can’t wait to see it!

  • Brigitte 4 years ago

    Can’t wait to see it. Thanks for sharing the story and the pictures of this amazing construction!

  • Alice 4 years ago

    So excited about this! We have started a woven teepee/cubby house in our back yard for our kids. Now reading this I’m going to try and get some willow from Melbourne Water to make it even better!! I’m glad it’s on till next year so we won’t miss seeing it.

  • lizzz 4 years ago

    this is a ‘must see’!!

  • E-Gene 4 years ago

    Brought this up when you were doing the other story about weaving. It’s like something out of a fairy tale.

  • Lisa 4 years ago

    This is just insanely amazing. Very much ‘where the wild things are’.

  • Camilla Stirling 4 years ago

    I LOVE This!

  • Donna 4 years ago

    So wonderfully beautiful. The most amazing escape I have seen in artform in quite a while!

  • Brandon 4 years ago

    I actually saw some of Patirck’s work last year in North Carolina and it was amazing. Such a fun experience!

  • Patricia 4 years ago

    Encountered it today and loved it. Will go back and revisit it. It felt like something out of a fairytale.

  • party bus 4 years ago

    how’s it hanging?, from Hidden Hills, California I want to say, I loved this blog. However, it is funny how I ended up on your post. I searched for osaka airport limousine on YouTube and ended up on your website. I must say I do like your site and will check back soon. But I need to find the limo I was originally looking for first. Have a amazing day! Goodbye.

  • I love these sculptures that resemble a imaginary bird nests. All works of Patrick Dougherty are wonderful.

  • Art-Lover 3 years ago

    This artist is amazing… I found great pictures of Patrick Dougherty creations in Art Days, here is the link! Enjoy! :)

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