Michelle Cain is an artist living in west Wales who specialises in willow sculptures of all shapes and sizes. Her work has been displayed at festivals and events across the UK and she is currently working on creating a giant badger at The Wildlife Park in Cilgerran. This is part of the Communities and Nature (CAN) project that also includes a willow butterfly maze on the site. It is hoped that the badger will stand proudly over the Wildlife Centre for many years to come.
The Big Willow Badger Build has been quite a project and she is always ready to welcome volunteers to help on site. The first week was spent gathering materials including some huge willows from the Wales Agricultural College. Michelle then had to set up a workshop with a soaking tank and steamer. Michelle began work with the Badger’s head, an imposing 2 metres in length! She researched her subject thoroughly and made working drawings to help create a lifelike structure.
The framework takes a lot of planning and Michelle is always prepared to make a few tweaks where necessary. She then moves on to the surface weave that she has estimated at ten days or so for a sculpture of this size. The badger slowly but surely began to take on a life of its own and blends nicely into the location, overlooking the reed beds along the Teifi Marshes towards Cardigan town. It is expected to be particularly popular with children and will be a tremendous new attraction to the Wildlife park.
Last month Michelle discovered that Narberth Museum had been shortlisted for the Art Fund Prize for Museum of the Year. In 2012 she was involved in the refit of the Bonded Stores of Narberth into the Museum it is today, creating a Mabinogion inspired, willowy forest, storytelling area.
Michelle has been commissioned for many pieces including installations at Manor Park in Pembrokeshire and a project for Channel 4’s Big Brother series. Her giant sculptures proved a massive hit at Glastonbury in 2010. Her clients include Jools Holland who purchased a giant willow sculpture of a seated drummer. She also runs workshops in willow sculpture and basket making. You can follow her progress on this latest project at the twisted hedge.