Patrick Dougherty is a builder, and yet, not an architect. He is perhaps best described as an artist and sculptor, a wood craftsman the likes of which most of us have never seen. Rather than cutting, planing, leveling and assembling rectilinear wood structures he shapes living trees into amazing natural buildings.
What started as simple arbosculptures quickly become inhabitable spaces and entire built environments. Some of the results seem like churches or gazebos, religious or resting places deep in the forest, as shown in the pictures above. Others are more abstract and open for interpretation or mixed-use occupation, changing with seasonal conditions as shown below.
Always temporary by necessity, Patrick Dougherty grows and shapes the constituent saplings to create playful and interactive forms in all kinds of contexts (with over 150 installations worldwide to date). Some of his shaped tree structures interact with surrounding built forms but many of his most interesting and engaging work stands alone in fields or forests.
One of the most impressive parts of his tree building constructions is the way he works with surrounding natural shapes, colors and seasonal environments. His structures can on a completely different character depending upon the time of year and weather that informs them – as shown in the images of an incredible series of tree-formed buildings above.
About Patrick Dougherty
“Born in Oklahoma in 1945, Dougherty was raised in North Carolina. He earned a B.A. in English from the University of North Carolina in 1967 and an M.A. in Hospital and Health Administration from the University of Iowa in 1969. Later, he returned to the University of North Carolina to study art history and sculpture.”
“Combining his carpentry skills with his love of nature, Patrick began to learn more about primitive techniques of building and to experiment with tree saplings as construction material. In 1982 his first work, Maple Body Wrap, was included in the North Carolina Biennial Artists’ Exhibition, sponsored by the North Carolina Museum of Art. In the following year, he had his first one-person show entitled, Waitin’ It Out in Maple at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.”
“His work quickly evolved from single pieces on conventional pedestals to monumental scale environmental works, which required saplings by the truckloads. Over the last thirty-some years, he has built over 300 of these works, and become internationally acclaimed. His sculpture has been seen worldwide—from Scotland to Japan to Brussels, and all over the United States.”