A Sight to Behold is a one-of-a-kind Stickwork sculpture located along Riverwalk. The large-scale sapling sculpture officially opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony in November 2015. It was built by internationally acclaimed sculptor Patrick Dougherty and numerous volunteers in a project commissioned by the Hillsborough Arts Council.
The sculpture is located within a copse of trees near Riverwalk’s downtown entrance, by the Eno River Parking Deck. A map of the location is available for download.
About the sculpture
The sculpture was built with three truck loads of Southern sugar maple, sweetgum and elm saplings. Dougherty said he was inspired by the concept of a pleasure dome, as in poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem “Kubla Khan.”
The sculpture is Dougherty’s 267th Stickwork sculpture. He creates the sculptures across the United States and around the world. The Hillsborough Arts Council is the smallest organization to commission a Stickwork sculpture, and Hillsborough is the smallest town to have one. Depending on weather conditions, the sculpture will remain in place for two years.
The project’s 190 confirmed volunteers helped gather saplings for the project from Ayr Mount Historic Site and from along sewer lines in the Waterstone development; strip leaves from saplings; construct the sculpture; check in volunteers each day; design graphics; plan events; develop public relations materials; track invitations; and help with a reception.
Volunteers came from Hillsborough as well as the town’s surrounding communities: Carrboro, Cary, Cedar Grove, Chapel Hill, Durham, Efland, Greensboro, Mebane, Oxford, Raleigh, Rougemont and Roxboro. In addition, volunteers from farther away in the state include those from Boone, Charlotte, King and Sanford as well as volunteers from as far away as Annandale, Va.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kennett Square, Penn.; and Rochester, N.Y.
The Arts Council raised $26,000 for the project through 65 individual donations as well as grants of $8,000 and $1,500 from the Hillsborough Tourism Board and the Orange County Arts Commission. Sponsors were:
- Classical American Homes Preservation Trust and the Richard Hampton Jenrette Foundation for providing saplings for the project
- Downtown Merchants of Historic Hillsborough
- Edward Jones financial services firm, with Tom Struckmeyer as financial adviser
- Mike’s Art Truck
- Sports Endeavors
- Summit Design and Engineering Services
- Weaver Street Market
The Orange County Visitors Bureau also provided funding for a photographer to document the project.
The town hauled saplings to the site in its brush collection trucks.