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Willow Man may be removed because of high repair costs

Repairs to the Willow Man are due to be completed today. Photo: ITV West Country

One of Somerset’s most iconic landmarks may have to be removed because it is too expensive to keep fixing.

Repairs to the Willow Man are due to be completed today.

The famous sculpture has been by the M5 in Bridgwater for 18 years – but the artist who made it says she is at a critical point in needing to decide its future.

Serena de la Hey has been repairing the head and torso of the sculpture. Credit: ITV West Country

Serena de la Hey created the Willow Man and says she is "looking at how I can change the structure, if I need to, to make it more longer-term."

"I’m looking at whether I might have to just bring it down because inevitably the need to find constant funding to rebuild is obviously a concern. I have to make a decision basically in the next year."

The sculpture is a popular sight in the area and Ms de la Hey says she is aware many people will be sad if the Willow Man does have to be removed.

"It is very difficult. The Willow Man is a public art work that is now connected with the area and it even seems more poignant now because there’s a phenomenal growth and change directly around its feet. Somerset was built by the withy growers – the withy growers shaped a large part of our landscape and that is now slowly disappearing."

Ms de la Hey says the Willow Man is "connected with the area". Credit: ITV West Country

The Willow Man was originally intended to be temporary but has gone on to outlive the arts board which commissioned him in the first place.

Ms de la Hey owns him, leases the land he stands on and is responsible for his repairs.

Her desire is to see the sculpture remain in place but she is strongly considering the issue of funding before making a final decision.