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Friday, 19 October, 2001, 11:27 GMT 12:27 UK
Willow man rises from ashes
The new Willow Man
The new Willow Man under construction
A 40-foot (12 metre) willow sculpture destroyed by arsonists has been rebuilt and unveiled.

Artist Serena de la Hey has created her second Willow Man, which stands in a field by the M5 motorway in Bridgwater, Somerset.

The figure, also known locally as the "Angel of the South", was set on fire in May leaving only a steel frame.

After the original figure was burnt down, a campaign calling for the sculpture to be rebuilt began almost immediately.

Serena de la Hey before the arson attack
Serena de la Hey with the original Willow Man
The original Willow Man had been commissioned by South West Arts, for the Year of the Artist 2000.

It took Ms de la Hey three weeks to construct and cost 15,000.

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

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

Many are now glad that the landmark has returned.

Gillian Taylor from South West Arts told BBC News Online: "We are delighted that he is back in place.

"Lots of people in the area were devastated when he went because he is so well known."

The new figure features steel wire interwoven with the willow. But this is not just to protect it against any attack.

New direction

Ms de la Hey said of the new thread in her work: "It's a new direction for me and I think it adds value to the re-build. It's the same figure but a new way of working."

However, some security measures have been in place to keep the new Willow Man upright.

Gillian Taylor said: "We do now have an acre of weedbed surrounding the figure to stop people from getting to it."

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

See also:

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