New Sculpture Honors Martinsville’s Bill “DaffyBill” Pannill
Thursday February 27, 2020
A new sculpture was installed in Piedmont Arts’Gravely-Lester Art Garden on Tuesday. Titled, Cliffhanger Daffodil, the sculpture was commissioned by local businessman Will Pannill in memory of his late father, Bill “DaffyBill” Pannill.
A Martinsville native, Bill was a businessman, textile industry executive, amateur botanist and noted daffodil hybridizer. During his life, he hybridized, named and registered 210 new varieties of daffodils. He was a former president of both the American Daffodil Society and the American Horticultural Society. He also founded the Horticulture Society of South Florida. Bill’s love and knowledge of daffodils led him to be known as the “World’s Greatest Authority on Daffodils.” Although he was an amateur botanist, his bulbs are grown by the acre in Holland and sold all over the world.
Cliffhanger Daffodil was created by artist Jeff Fetty of Spencer, West Virginia. Made of forged steel, the piece stands 10 feet high and weighs in at 500 lbs. Jeff has created thousands of flowers, but said it was a “challenge to nail the Cliffhanger,” especially because the sculpture is considered to be horticulturally accurate. Jeff was eager to accurately reproduce the flower because, “Will’s story about his father made it special.”
This spring, visitors to the Art Garden can view 100 daffodils around the base of the sculpture, which were planted by Bill’s niece Lucy Wilson, using daffodils that were given to her by her uncle.
Cliffhanger Daffodil joins two other new sculptures in the Art Garden. Last week, artist Jeremy Stollings of Hillsborough, North Carolina installed a Giving Tree sculpture in the Art Garden. The sculpture will recognize the donors whose generous support helped make the Art Garden a reality. Stollings also helped install a rooster sculpture, which was donated by the family of Judy and John Matthews. The sculpture is a tribute to Judy and John’s legacy of love and support for the arts in Martinsville-Henry County.