Sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon tranforms Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House in Bowness

PUBLISHED: 16:24 28 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:25 20 February 2013

Sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon tranforms Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House in Bowness

Sculptor Laura Ellen Bacon tranforms Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House in Bowness

A sculptor has turned one of the region's stunning houses into a basket case. Mike Glover reports Photography by Tony West

If ever an artist and a site for an artistic creation were made for each other, it is Laura Ellen Bacon and Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House near Bowness.

Laura is a sculptor who works primarily with willow and other coppiced materials to create nest-like structures designed and structured to fit their setting.

Blackwell, built above Windermere for a Manchester brewer, is one of Britains finest houses from the turn of the last century and was restored by Lakeland Arts Trust eleven years ago to a remarkable state of preservation, retaining almost all of its original decorative features.

Laura spent two weeks creating her dual structure, called Exposed, on the outside of the Hugh Baillie Scott-designed house.

She broke off to explain to Lancashire Life what brought her together with Blackwell, but not for long enough to remove the insulation tape that protects her fingers from the willow with which she works.

Lauras love of wood stretches back to her childhood, running free in woodland on her parents fruit farm. Building tree houses and dens was in a sense the most creative time of my life, says Laura. Nothing really clicked as excitingly as when I built things of wood on my own.

Laura clearly doesnt like labels or to follow any path already trodden by other artists or crafts people, so when she picked up on willow didnt want to go down the basket-weaving or hurdles route. Instead, she developed her own style of nest-like forms, which cling to trees, walls or buildings.

Nests and cocoon-like forms intrigue me because they are often built directly into existing structures, such as trees or architectural features. My work is often found to be gripping tree trunks, slumping over walls, entwined with foliage or drooping over frameworks.

Of Exposed, Kathy Haslam, Blackwells curator says: Lauras installation creates an artwork out of Blackwell itself; it is very exciting to be using the house in a totally new way.

Exposed: A Sculptural Installation by Laura Ellen Bacon is at Blackwell, the Arts and Crafts House until September 30th, 2012. For more on Ellens work, see

The print version of this article appeared in the June 2012 issue of Lancashire Life
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