Brendan Farren is originally from Newtownards, Co. Down, and now lives in Inishowen, Co. Donegal, with partner and 3 children on a small organic farm. He has been a self-employed artist since 1992. Since 2004 he has grown willow and other natural materials on his land, and uses these materials where possible in his sustainable creations.
‘I now have online weaving video tutorials available- check out http://www.biggreenweaving.com and Big Green Weaving on Facebook . There are lots of free videos on Big Green Art on YouTube
Or go direct to Basketweaving in 6 easy steps to see what the online tutorials look like.
This beautiful horse and cart was conceived, designed and woven by Glenview Men’s and Hens’ Sheds. It commemorates the thousands of people who left Donegal, travelling to Derry to get the ship to America, from Famine times onwards.
There was great camaraderie and co-operation shown by the whole group, and the project was fantastic fun all the way through the eight weeks of construction. It now stands on Northland Road, Derry, opposite St. Mary’s College, as of April 18th, ’22.
This amazing Corncrake appeared on April 6th in the grounds of Craigtown National School, Carndonagh. It was woven by the 75 pupils of 4th, 5th and 6th classes, and reminds us that there’s precious few corncrakes where once there were plenty. Brilliant time making this with all the children.
It was made possible by the Creativity in Schools program.
This little bike shelter is in the grounds of Gaelscoil na Doroige, Derry. It is made completely out of local larch, and has a wildflower meadow (hopefully) growing on its roof! It fits bikes and scooters.
This is a living willow tunnel and and dome on the amazing grounds of Oakgrove Integrated School in Derry. It was completed just in time at the end of March, on the same day that the school celebrated 30 years of existence. Hopefully the children will get many more years of fun out of this dome.
A woven High Cross (of course!) to help commemorate St. Columba in Derry, 2022.
Got pretty big, 4m tall!
It’s first site was an amazing location beside Derry’s walls, overlooking the Creggan and the Bogside, where we imagined an early monastic site, with our willow hurdles creating an ancient feeling. And then at night it was lit up with a fantastic illuminatory display from Luminaire. Feeling very honoured to be chosen for such work.
Lots of hurdle-making so far this year. The 2 pics below are hurdles made from willow for NW Carnival, Derry
Hazel hurdles made by volunteers of the Woodland Trust, In Burntollet woods, Co. Derry
Hail St. Brigit- making st brigit’s crosses on Feb 1st, with the community of the Bogside, in Pilot’s Row, Derry
I’ve been busy creating some sculptures for the famous Derry Halloween celebrations. This photo shows Morrigan and Me. Morrigan is a shape-shifter, able to take forms like the Raven. I had been commissioned to create a woven portal, and this morphed into a big raven taking flight.
WORLD CURLEW DAY 21st April 2021
As part of World Curlew Day celebrations, and to highlight the precarious situation that Curlews are in, I made 4 more big Curlew sculptures, and they are now in Kerry, Mayo, Monaghan and Donegal, mounted in prominent public view to attract maximum attention.
The creation of these Curlews was commissioned by the Dept. of Wildlife etc., and through the National Parks and Wildlife Service are actively involved in trying to protect breeding pairs right around Ireland.
Here is a pergola we completed in the Fountain allotments, Derry. Being watched over by Hare and Heron. This allotment went on to win Allotment of the Year at Chelsea Flower Show 2021!
These 2 photos by Les Denman are part of a series taken for the Homo Faber catalogue, which is a list of master crafts people I was invited to join recently.
This is a wee cabin we finished in the autumn of ’20 in Greencastle, built with and for my cousin Danny. You can see details of the build on the Green Building page
This Heron is now watching over the Fountain allotments, in the shadow of Derry’s Walls
These photos show Park Youth, Derry building an arch made from broken branches collected from the park and screwed together. The result is this magnificent wooden archway.
This is Harry The Hare in his new home in the allotments in The Fountain, Derry/Londonderry. He has a wire sub-frame and is covered with willow rods.
These Fire Beacons were made for NW Carnival’s Halloween celebrations, installed in The Fountain, Derry/Londonderry.
Here’s an amphitheatre we rebuilt in St. Columb’s Park House, Derry. The existing terracing was there for years, and we re-landscaped, made seating, and covered the seats with a roof inspired by reciprocal roofs and teepees! And now is a multi-functional new space!
The Greencastle Yawl has been repainted!
First painted in 1998 by myself and Gearoid O’Hayes, it was badly faded when the owners requested a repaint recently. A Greencastle Yawl is a traditional wooden boat used for fishing all along the north coast of Ireland, as far away as Trondheim in Norway, which lends the boat its other name, a ‘drontheim’.
It was a Curlew-crazy summer, 2019!
3 big curlews made for National Parks & Wildlife Service,
and their Curlew Conservation Project.
Check out my latest curlew sculpture, posted June 25th, ’19
A Stick Tree on Derry’s Walls, soon to be decorated with colourful oak leaves. Part of a Positive Mental Health Exhibition, Sep 17-22nd
Since February of ’19 I have been working in St. Columb’s Park, Derry with teenagers from Park Youth. Our remit was to enhance public experience of the park. We decided to build 2 free library boxes, and house them under a wooden lean-to. The teens got hands-on, designing, cutting, and installing the library space. We also built a lean-to dog shelter. And now an arch of 2 trees.
Every winter, the life of a willow worker comes into its own. Winter is probably the busiest time of the year, as it’s when we cut our year’s harvest, and also when we can plant willow rods into ‘living’ structures.
This Wigloo was made by the gardeneering class of Scoil Eoghain, Moville, in Nov. ’18. It’s almost ethereal
Another living willow structure, this is a fence/hedge, or ‘fedge’, built at end of Nov. ’18, in Quigley’s Point Playgroup, Co. Donegal.
This whale was created by BGA and Zero Waste Derry, and was carried in the Derry Halloween Parade, 2018.
This is a wall piece commissioned by a client for his renovated ancestral home on the foothills of Slieve Sneacht.
Lighthouse View is a local B&B here in Greencastle.
This sign is in Strandhill, Co. Sligo, on a well-established ice-cream shop. Because it is situated right on a wild atlantic beach, the sign needed to be very durable, so the letters are copper-covered marine ply on an oak-board base.
I helped an American weaver called Mo create this beautiful coffin, or ‘vessel’, with an unusual wooden spine, requiring skilled packing to keep in shape
I painted this in the summer of ’17 to cover a supermarket wall off the Main St in Moville.
Here’s a few photos of a community- woven sculpture which was created on the streets of Strabane, Co. Derry on July 18th. The woven pig stands beside Ambrose, a bronze sculpture outside the Alley Theatre, from the imagination of local man Flann O’Brien.
A new video for Brigid’s Day 2016!
The Salmon of Knowledge was spotted on the streets of Derry, Halloween 2015. (Part of North West Carnival Parade.)
Willow Harvesting Video
This video was shot at the start of 2014, during the willow-cutting open day I had. The idea of having a ‘meitheal’-style willow harvesting began in early 2013, when a group of friends and strangers came together after we had a traumatic fire at our home the xmas before. And they wanted to do it again last year, hence the video.
This is called ‘Return of the Dagda’ and was painted in Glenties in 1999. It was bought by Donegal County Council, and is hung in Buncrana Library.
I would like to publicly thank Phil ‘Pip’ Murray, my cuz and oldest friend, for keeping this website t’gether over the years! I hope you enjoy looking at my work.