Over the last decade Rachel has been commissioned to create a wide range of public and private sculptures for the landscape, both Urban and Natural settings.
Fallen and Speckled Eggs
The Fallen Egg was first designed for a commission in Crow Wood, a playscape by Davis & White architects for Lyme Park in Cheshire. A total of four willow eggs were created using Rachel's trademark swirl weave and nestled into the landscape around the play area.
Speckled Egg was formed whilst experimenting with a new finer eco-fibre, the 3mm diameter fibre is very flexible and can be applied to many hand processes. Through various tests, a crochet stitch worked so well that Rachel applied it to an entire egg shaped frame. The overlapping stitches create a wonderful deep texture resembling the intricate nests of insects.
The new public art sculpture ‘Gob’, is made from cast bronze and stainless steel, sitting on a plinth of pink Derbyshire sandstone.
Designed to be part of the Salt Brook Heritage Trail, Hatton, Derbyshire, the sculpture takes inspiration from the glass blowing industry that once thrived in the area.
Sketch for Gob
Bronze Grand Sphere
Throughout all of Rachel’s work, she has utilised a range of hand weaving techniques to create woven sculptures, often taking inspiration from the natural world and the geometric patterns that can be found there.
In 2012 Rachel began her research looking if she could work other materials in the same manner as willow with an emphasis on resistant materials.
The answer was found in wax, a material that can be blended to have specific qualities and is used within Lost Wax Casting. Using the skills of a British wax refinery they created a wax which can withstand hand weaving techniques and that burns away cleanly to be used in the direct lost wax method.
In 2013 she successfully produced the first large scale cast spherical bronze with the help of Arts Council. It was showcased at the 100th Chelsea Flower show then at the University of Leicester’s Botanical Gardens and now proudly sits within the World Heritage Site, the Derwent Valley in Derbyshire, the birth place of the Industrial Revolution.
Change of Heart, University of Leicester 2014
Curated by Almuth Tebbenhoff FRBS
Rachel Carter has won widespread acclaim for her woven works in willow, using the tree’s flexible withies to build up geometric shapes layer by layer. She is a regular exhibitor at the annual Chelsea Flower Show where the natural, hand-made quality of her work is warmly embraced. Although her woven creations have somewhat limited life span compared with works in more durable materials such as bronze or stone, this ephemeral quality has not deterred collectors. Most see it as an important part of the work - an echo of the universal rhythm of life and death to which ultimately everything must conform. However, driven by a technical curiosity towards materials, Carter recently began working with the renowned Pangolin bronze foundry in Chalford, Gloucestershire with a view to exploring the viability of translating her willow technique into bronze. The Pangolin team has yet to encounter a challenge it cannot meet, as Carter’s shimmering Bronze Grand Sphere (2013) is bountiful proof. This woven bronze sphere marks a significant moment in the development of Carter’s working method, although she will continue to weave in willow.
Text taken from Change of Heart exhibition brochure
How to make a Bronze Sphere part 1
Filmed in 2013, this short video shows Rachel during the creation of her first bronze sphere.
How to make a Bronze Sphere part 2
The second instalment of Rachel's first bronze cast in 2013
Rachel Carter's Bronze Sphere Sculpture at RHS Chelsea
The finished Bronze exhibited at RHS Chelsea 2013
Derby SANDS Baby Memorial Garden
The Derby Sands baby memorial garden was officially opened on 29th June 2014. The central feature of the garden is a beautiful cocoon shaped sculpture bearing name petals of local babies who died before, during or after birth, designed and fabricated by Rachel Carter.
Around 300 name petals dating from present day back to 1942 have been placed on the cocoon memorial over the past few years and the memorial is almost full. As more families have learnt about the memorial a second sculpture was commissioned for the garden, a butterfly sculpture with a 4 metre wing span. Able to accommodate hundreds of petals the sculpture was unveiled in Spring 2016.
Derby Sands commissioned Rachel to design and fabricate a second butterfly to sit alongside the original cocoon and butterfly sculptures, unveiled in April 2018 the three sculptures now house over 500 name petals.
To find out more about the work of Derby SANDS please visit www.derbysands.org.uk
The Cocoon and Butterfly
Carved Green Oak benches
Heanor Wings & Wheel Gateway Sculpture
In 2010 Rachel was commissioned by Amber Valley Borough Council to create a gateway sculpture in the town of her birth.
Heanor in South Derbyshire has a rich industrial history, from textiles and hosiery to coal. The sculpture sits on the corner of the old site of I R Morley's, a textile manufacturer established in 1795 whose premises in Heanor employed over 1000 people until it closed towards the end of the 20th century.
I R Morley's logo featured a wheel set in a pair of wings titled the Flying Wheel and was the first company logo added onto a piece of clothing.
The sculpture takes inspiration from this story and presents a wing either side of the sculpture which is punctured by a large wheel representing industry and regeneration.
I R Morleys
I R Morleys
Corten Seeds & Pod
In 2013 Rachel was commissioned by Derby City Council and Persimmon Homes to create a series of public art works for their new housing development in Mickleover, Derby.
The sculpture begins with a large pod at the top of the boulevard with a single seed siting alongside. As you amble down the path towards the open country side, more seeds can be found in various stages of germination.
Made from laser cut, rolled and welded sheets of Core-Ten steel, they create their own protective surface by rusting to create a rich patina.
Alliums have been a popular sculpture since 2009 when Rachel exhibited her first collection. Since then they have been sold to private gardens across the UK, France and Italy.
The Alliums shown in a large collection can adapt to many different landscapes from the Orangery Lawn at Charlecote Park, Warwickshire to the intimate Red Garden at Coughton Court, to an installation in a Carp pond.
Rachel made her first Grand Sphere sculptures in 2010 for an installation in English Heritage's Bolsover Castle and they continue to be her most popular sculpture.
The weaving spreads across the surface of the sphere creating fluid patterns and movements, with every strand hand woven no two spheres are alike. Spheres have made their way across the UK, France and USA in private gardens.
The sculptures have been exhibited at RHS Chelsea Flower Show, sculpture gardens and in 2012 two grand Spheres were selected by Yorkshire Sculpture Park to be exhibited alongside Jaume Plensa in the Kyiv Botanical Gardens, Ukraine, an achievement Rachel is very proud of.
Grand spheres are available to commission in cast bronze, please get in touch by using the Contact page to discuss your project.
The University of Derby approached two of it's alumni in 2010 to work collaboratively on a new gateway sculpture for the main Derby campus.
Rachel Carter and Laura Ellen Bacon designed three imposing structures of curved steel powder coated in a bright red colour, representing the three sites across Derbyshire. The willow representing the students flow through the forms weaving in a and out of the punctured red forms.
Twisted Form was developed during an artist residency at the King George V gallery with the Ilkeston Ormiston Academy school.
Inspiration came from the Kepler Conjecture, a mathematical theorem about sphere packing in a three dimensional space, by the 16th century mathematician, astronomer and astrologer Johannes Kepler.
During the residency Rachel experimented with this theory using small polystyrene shapes alongside sketches, which led to the Twisted Form. Made from 50 individually woven units stacked and fixed together to create the two connecting structures.
After the residency the sculpture was exhibited at RHS Chelsea Flower Show and Doddington Hall before being re-assembled at the Melbourne Art Trail that altered as each piece was removed and sold over the course of a single weekend.
Rachel was approached by Derbyshire Wildlife Trust to create a natural sculpture to sit in the landscape near Shipley Country Park.
The Poppy Head was created with a large base and an intricate woven top slightly off centre to give the appearance that the poppy head had fallen to the ground.
Further poppy heads have been made and exhibited at Leeds Castle, Kent and sculpture shows across the UK.
The Copper Alliums have been a favourite piece for some years now and have been installed in gardens across the UK.
Made from solid copper woven wire and a 6mm thick copper stem, the Allium's change as the react to their environment, altering from shiny copper tones to a lovely verdigris finish that deepens with age.