Nature as a healer
Creating living art with the willow wizards.

Willow structures building workshop

Southampton, New York

There are quite a few studies on nature’s healing and therapeutic properties like for example ART by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan, where they prove nature not only enhances wellbeing but also improves focus and concentration. Howard, former designer and artist, also known as the willow wizard. Over 30 years experience in directing, designing and handcrafting vast range of products, now dedicates his time to the art of willow weaving. From growing, selling, and designing and installing willow structures, Howard spreads his magic throughout the United States.  From his time living and working with artisans from the Amazon, Haiti, Jamaica and India, Howard discovered the importance for the use of local materials. Through his willow structures, he gives nature a chance to survive.

During the 1980’s the Kaplans,  renowned for their research on environmental psychology, specifically between man and environment and the effects of nature on mental and overall health developed the ART theory (Attention Restoration Theory).

We know and understand that being outside is beneficial for us, lowering our stress and anxiety levels, “grounding” us (pun intended credits to Howard). But why? What is it about being in nature that evokes happines? Deep down, it may be because nature is our home, making us feel safe and connected, like in a nest. Nature takes care of us and we should take care of it too. Thousands, millions of years ago, we lived as hunter-gatherers, sleeping under the protection of the canopies of trees, or in little simple structures made from locally sourced materials. It is probably very deeply engraved in our brains somewhere, that when we see and experience nature, some sort of signal or trigger lets us know we are where we belong. Spending these last 3 days with Howard and Eli (or as I like to call them, the Willow Wizards), made me reflect and think about the Hadza again. A hunter-gatherer tribe, one of the last ones standing in the world, whom I had the chance to meet and live with for 4 days in the middle of the bush in Tanzania. Despite being in polar opposite settings (Long Island New York and Northern Tanzania), I could spot and sense few similarities amongst them. Most notably, the special energy that they both exude, sort of magical.  Second, the immersive experience of nature through touch, the use of the hand and craftmanship.  Finally, the sourcing of local materials for manual art and use. 



What makes willow structures magical?

Life itself, they change and evolve overtime (you see the life cycle through seasons) Symbolism-resilience and healing, natural art, the energy behind the weaver and artist is channeled to the willow, making it vibrant. ] HOWARD SAYS WILLOW symbol of life, life cycle. 


Why is it important to preserve crafts like weaving, nowadays?

Life itself, they change and evolve overtime (you see the life cycle through seasons) Symbolism-resilience and healing, natural art, the energy behind the weaver and artist is channeled to the willow, making it vibrant. HOWARD-GROWTH IN  DEMAND FOR THNIGS LIKE THESE.


Why and what about  nature is so captivating and how does this influence us?

LThe fact that we cant fully grasp or understand it-utmost respect for it. How