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Willow woman

This week, I started work on a new social forestry project at the Green Wood Centre, just down the road from me in Coalbrookdale. Its the headquarters of the Small Woods Association, and home to the Ironbridge Coracle Centre and the Embers cafe. I've got a long connection to the site - having done a masterplan for the site and supported the development of the Ironbridge Coracle Centre in my previous career as a landscape architect; as well as having been a participant on several of their woodland management and heritage craft courses - so it felt lovely to return there in my new capacity as an artist and workshop facilitator.

Over the next six weeks, I'll be working with a women's group to design and make a willow sculpture. The group is part of the Green Wood Centre's thriving green social prescribing programme, which offers projects in carpentry, heritage crafts, conservation, gardening and nature-based art to participants who have been referred on to the programme by health and social care professionals.

We spent the day getting to know each other, and deciding what sculpture we'd like to make together. We quickly settled on the idea of making a willow woman, and came up with design ideas for her. The group want her to be connected to the image of Mother Earth and the changing seasons; to have broad shoulders to demonstrate her strength; heart decorations to show love for self and others; to have a pet animal so she knows she'll never be alone; and to be carrying a basket to show the importance of craft for mental wellbeing. It was an inspiring and touching conversation, and I can't wait to see the group fulfil their vision for their willow woman.

Walk through the Green Wood Centre's coppice woodland
Walk through the Green Wood Centre's coppice woodland

After our design discussion, we then chose and prepared the site, and planned how to sort and prepare the willow so its ready for weaving next week. We then warmed up our weaving hands by making some heart decorations. The group have spent many weeks at the Green Wood Centre already, having done their Build a Bench project and other skills-based programmes, so they were quick to get stuck in. Its amazing what projects like this can do participants' confidence and self-esteem.

Watch this space to see our progress over the coming weeks. If you'd like to find out more about the Green Wood Centre's green social prescribing programmes, get in touch with Rebecca on,

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