Nantucket Artist Profile: Kelley Jepson

Leslie Linsley •

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The fallen branches in your yard are worth their weight in gold to local artist Kelley Jepson. He turns debris into art.

Nantucket has always attracted creative people seeking beautiful, out-of-the-way places to live and to inspire them. The weekly Farmers & Artisans Market on Saturdays, has been an enormous success, showcasing the best of Nantucket’s creative community and has just ended its season with many of the artists now working on winter commissions.

One of its most popular exhibitors is Jepson, owner of Kelley Jepson Garden Designs, whose exquisite garden structures made from gathered twigs, branches and odd pieces of wood have attracted locals and visitors alike. His booth became a popular destination for loyal followers throughout the season. Kelley’s creations are at once arresting, surprisingly sturdy, and architecturally integrated into the environment. It might be a child’s playhouse, a simple arbor or a more elaborate structure, complete with chairs built into the arbor.

Jepson has the winning combination of being not only a creative architect of sustainable outdoor structures, but a visual artist. Aside from his twig arbors, tables, and chairs, Kelley transforms found material into stunning wildlife sculptures for indoor and outdoor display. His Red-tailed hawk, made entirely from reclaimed cedar, makes a dramatic statement. At 52-inches high by 30 inches wide it is quite a sight and can withstand the elements in a garden or mounted on the side of a house. Kelley says, “It’s also quite stunning in a grand foyer.”

Kelley works from his outdoor studios in Nantucket and in Amherst where he creates bird sculptures of all types: cranes, hawks, owls and his super popular whales. A soft-spoken young man, Jepson is passionate about his work and says, “The outdoor garden structures made from twigs and found pieces of wood are in such demand that I’m now teaching parents and children how to create outdoor rooms that children love as private hideaways.”

This has turned into a satisfying family project from start to finish. Jepson is now taking orders far into the future for his sculptural garden pieces. He is not only making beautiful objects and useful outdoor spaces, but contributing to the environment. He is an artist who has found a way to support himself by doing what he loves, and island homeowners appreciate his work.

Jepson can be reached at: or (413) 404-2557.

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