Robert Yates trained and qualified as a Chartered Surveyor in 1983. In 1985, he returned to the family farm in Suffolk and started growing willow as an experimental crop on surplus grazing marshes to sell to a local basket maker. He soon started to weave the willow himself and set up Brampton Willows in 1988 specialising in designing and making bespoke willow products mainly for the garden although he also made cross country obstacles for top international Horse Trials including Badminton and Burghley. He started exhibiting at various local shows and progressed to achieving award winning stands at the Chelsea Flower Show. The structure of all his work is a combination of steel and willow – the former provides the structural strength and the latter, the aesthetics. He soon realised that with this combination, almost anything was possible.
In 2013, Robert made three modest sculptural pieces for display on the quay at Snape Maltings in Suffolk and was then commissioned to make a 4m diameter ship’s Propeller as a sculptural centre-piece for a project in Suffolk. This then led onto his hardest challenge yet – a 3m sculpture of ‘King Kong’ with a cast bronze face for a client in The Seychelles. He is about to start work on a commission for another very large life form.
Robert has made four giant ‘Mushrooms’ for this year’s Art For Cure, with patinated steel and Oak, as well as willow. These are designed for the garden and, because they have steel ‘caps’ protecting the willow from the elements, they will last for many years.