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Tuesday, 8 May, 2001, 14:04 GMT 15:04 UK
Willow Man burnt in arson attack
Willow Man
Willow Man is also named Angel of the South
A 12-metre tall willow sculpture has been torched in an arson attack.

The Willow Man which stands in a field by the M5 motorway in Bridgwater, Somerset, was set alight in the early hours of 8 May.

The statue, also known as the Angel of the South, was created by artist Serena de la Hey and cost 15,000.


What do you do, surround it with barbed wire and electrocute people?

Serena de la Hey
The figure, which was unveiled last year, took three weeks to construct using willow woven over a steel frame, which survived the flames.

The work was expected to stand for at least three years.

Anger

Miss de la Hey said she was devastated by the arson attack.

"Lots of things go through your mind, there's a degree of anger, why someone should be bothered destroying something like that," she said.

"It's such a local project, that it doesn't just affect me.

"It's become increasingly popular, it's a very positive symbol for Somerset."

The Willow Man project was funded by a grant from South West Arts, the local authority and Sainsbury's supermarket.

The artist is hoping to be able to reconstruct her work with support from the arts council.

Miss de la Hey said she did not believe there was a link between the fire and ritual burnings of wicker figures at festivals such as Glastonbury.

She added: "The reaction is try and assess what we can do to improve the protection of the place, but what can we do?

"It's on private land, affected by foot-and-mouth, what do you do surround it with barbed wire and electrocute people?"

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See also:

25 May 99 | Entertainment
Gateshead's Angel reigns supreme - for now
30 Jul 99 | UK
Pinnacle of art?
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