The artist who created an iconic 40ft structure dubbed the ‘Angel of the South’ beside the M5 motorway is furious after it was dwarfed – by this eyesore warehouse.
Serena de la Hay designed the Willow Man sculpture in 2000 and it has become a popular landmark with motorists and holidaymakers heading to the West Country.
But she is furious that work has begun on a 250,000sq ft distribution centre for supermarket Morrisons in the shadow of her famous work.
The 100ft high structure is part of a #95million development on fields near Bridgwater, Somerset, that will also see 2,000 homes built over the next few years.
Serena, 42, says the new development will ”completely surround” the Willow Man and ruin its rural setting.
She said: ”I had absolutely no idea the council intended to build houses on this land, let alone a giant warehouse.
”As I understand now, houses are going to be built on the north side of the Willow Man and Morrisons on the south so he is going to be completely surrounded by very obvious buildings.
”When I first came up with the concept for the sculpture, I envisaged him surrounded by fields standing out starkly against a flat, wild backdrop.
”To discover the council plan to completely surround him is very disappointing and has very much changed thing and I now worry about the long term future of the sculpture.
”I’ll be asking questions in the near future about what can be done about it as it is a real shame.
”We will have to see what the development looks like when it is finished and I hope it has not ruined what I first envisaged.”
Willow Man was built in a field near junction 23 of the M5 at a cost of #15,000 in 2000 as part of the Year of the Artist scheme.
Serena took four weeks to weave locally-grown willow from the Somerset Levels around a metal structure.
It has drawn comparisons with Antony Gormley’s Angel of the North which over looks the A1 in Tyneside near Gateshead.
The sculpture was torched by vandals in 2001 but rebuilt five months later when local people and businesses stepped forward to help.
This time the second Willow Man, which was commissioned by the South West Arts Council, was interwoven with steel to make it more robust.
It is the tallest willow sculpture in the country and even has its own Facebook page.
Gillian Taylor from the South West Arts Council said: ”The sculpture was originally only meant to stand for three years but still stands today because he has become so iconic and people really like him.
”There was always development planned on that piece of land, even before he was commissioned, unfortunately, so there was nothing we could do when they started building.
”It is certainly a popular landmark and I am sure that local people are going to feel disappointed that their view is restricted as they drive past as it is not as visible as it was.”
Sedgemoor District Council say plans for the warehouse and housing estate were already submitted when the Willow Man was installed in 2000.
Doug Barnsey, corporate director of Sedgemoor District Council, said: ”We tried to ensure when planning this development that the Willow Man’s future would be safe.
”We are aware that local people really like the sculpture so we have tried to allow for it.
”We want the new Morrisons buildings to be iconic in their own right, and it is has been planned that it will have some kind of willow design on the side.”