Private Commissions

Blogs about private sculpture commissions by Simon O’Rourke. These sculptures are not able to be viewed by the public.

giant pinecone sculpture by simon o'rourke

Giant Pinecone Sculpture

Giant Pinecone Sculpture 450 600 Simon O'Rourke

Last week Simon created something very different to his usual style: a giant pinecone sculpture! Did you see it on Facebook or Instagram? It definitely caught his followers’ attention, with comments including:
“Amazing”, “unbelievably awesome”, “wonderful” and “in awe”.  Read on to find out the story behind the sculpture…

 

giant pinecone sculpture by simon o'rourke

This giant pinecone sculpture has been popular since Simon revealed it on social media last week

A Giant Pinecone Sculpture: The Client’s Story

Simon’s client had a Monterey Cypress tree with a tree protection order on it. However, it was shedding branches close to the road. It was a danger to traffic in the area and needed to be cut back. Simon’s client took the necessary steps and received permission to cut the tree back for safety reasons. Please note, if you have a tree with a protection order that has become dangerous, it’s important you take the right steps to get that order amended or revoked.

The client used tree surgeon Harry, from Dedham Vale Tree Surgery, a tree surgeon who sometimes works with Simon. When Harry heard that the client would like to turn the remaining stump into a feature, he recommended Simon. The client made contact and commissioned the giant pinecone sculpture.

 

simon o'rourke standing on scaffolding working on his giant pinecone sculpture with a chainsaw

Simon at work on the giant pinecone sculpture

Choosing a Subject for Sculpture

Sometimes the choice for a sculpture subject is deeply personal. Sometimes it’s symbolic. Other times it’s historic. Or represents a passion, hobby or quirk. This time, however, the choice of a pinecone was really very simple. The client wanted the sculpture to stand out as a feature, and continue the legacy of the rather impressive Monterey Cypress when it had been at its peak. The stump is surrounded by other pines and firs, so the client had the idea of a giant pinecone sculpture!

 

chainsaw artist simon o'rourke stands next to a 6' tree stump being carved into a giant pinecone sculpture

Simon with the sculpture in progress

Creating the Giant Pinecone Sculpture

Although the concept of the pinecone may seem more simple than some of Simon’s sculptures, it was definitely a challenge! Partly because it was SO HUGE! And partly because it was hard to maintain symmetry.

Simon found it helped with the shaping to draw a circle on the top and mark the sides with horizontal lines at specific measurements.

Once the cone shape was done, he then divided up each row around the shape into sections and drew the diagonal lines in. It was only then that he could start cutting the pattern!
He used the cordless MSA200 saws to create the general pattern, then used Manpa cutters to create most of the 3D spines on the cone.
Finally, it was onto Saburrtooth burr discs on the angle grinder to round off all the edges and get it looking tidy.
giant pinecone sculpture by simon o'rourke

The Finished Sculpture

The final piece is bold and striking and definitely meets the requirement of being a key feature piece. The client wanted something that would be a fitting replacement for the beautiful tree that had stood there before, and the pinecone sculpture is certainly that.  It stands around 6′ tall and (if you’re a cypress lover!) will also smell amazing for a while yet! Simon’s client is extremely happy with the finished piece, describing it as ” a piece of art”.
Do you have a diseased or dangerous tree that you would like to turn into a sculpture?
Contact Simon using the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact.
an abstract chainsaw carving sculpture: Dance with the Devil

An Abstract Chainsaw Carving Sculpture

An Abstract Chainsaw Carving Sculpture 450 600 Simon O'Rourke

Earlier this month Simon had the opportunity to create an abstract chainsaw carving sculpture. It’s a little different to his usual style, so we thought we’d share a little more in this blog. Don’t forget to leave a comment to let us know what you think!

 

an abstract chainsaw carving sculpture by simon o'rourke  hidien within the branches of an oak tree

About the Tree

One of the things Simon loves about his work is being able to give life back to dead trees in the form of art. In this case though, it is about extending the life of the tree.
The sculpture is within an old oak tree that’s been decaying over time. Its roots are undermined by a stream, and over time, the tree will no longer be viable. However, reduction will lengthen its life a little. And if a tree must be reduced, why not do it with style… and a sculpture?!

 

woman's face hidden within an abstract chainsaw carving sculpture

 

About the Subject

The client originally gave Simon the theme “Dance with the Devil”. Simon has created figures within the branches to convey that theme. It’s perhaps more reminiscent of a dryad and Dionysus (Bacchus in Roman culture) than typical portrayals of the devil.  As well as the main figures, he’s created some hidden elements in the tree too: twisted monsters and hidden faces.

 

close up of a woman's face carved into an oak branch

Creating an Illusion

The main figures are a bit of an optical illusion that can only be seen from one angle. There’s one sweet spot especially, where they really stand out. From other angles, they look like a dead tree which is what Simon and the client wanted.

 

an abstract chainsaw carving sculpture of bacchus

The figures are only intended to be seen from certain angles

What Makes This an Abstract Chainsaw Carving Sculpture?

Simon often carves in an impressionist style. So what is it that makes this abstract?
Abstract art makes no attempt to represent an accurate depiction of visual reality. Rather, it uses shapes, colours, forms and gestural marks to achieve its effect.

In the case of this sculpture, the idea of dance or movement is created by the shapes of the branches rather than an actual scene with clear characters. The faces are carved within the branches and don’t have anatomically accurate bodies. The entire piece is about creating an impression rather than an obvious depiction.

 

close up of an abstract chainsaw carving sculpture of bacchus by simon o'rourke

 

What Happens With the New Growth?

We’ve mentioned before that as they’re made from wood, all of Simon’s sculptures will change over time. It’s even more true in this case, as the tree is still growing beneath the sculpture! That will definitely change the appearance over time, as with any environmental art. Simon has created several sculptures on this estate (including the Oak Maiden, Oak Father, and Hydra) and will return in the future. When he does, he will see how the tree is growing, and how the sculpture looks because of those changes. At that point, he may add some more figures or ‘tweak’ some of the shapes. Watch this space to see what happens!

 

an abstract chainsaw carving sculpture in an oak tree depicts greek mythological figures in a dance

An Abstract Chainsaw Carving Sculpture: Final Thoughts

It’s always nice as an artist to have a fresh challenge! What do you think of Simon’s abstract sculpture? And what do you see in the branches? Drop us a comment and let us know!

And, as always, use the contact form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact/ if you would like to commission your own sculpture.

close up of a pair of robins carved into a cedar bench.

Robin Memorial Bench

Robin Memorial Bench 800 600 Simon O'Rourke

COntacSimon often receives commissions for memorial sculptures. One of his most popular sculptures last year was a beautiful memorial for a young lady named Robyn. Recently he received a commission for another robin-themed memorial, this time a robin memorial bench…

 

a robin memorial bench carved in cedar in front of a brick wall

Robin Memorial Bench: The Brief

Simon’s brief for this commission was to create a bench to commemorate the client’s husband, Robin. Beyond that, it was simply to include a robin, and the name Rob. With such a simple brief, were several directions Simon could go. In chatting more with the client, he discovered she likes natural forms, climbing plants, and organic designs, so he set out to create something that would also reflect this.

 

robin memorial bench carved in cedar by simon o'rourke. it sits in front of a red brick wall on a tarmac surface

Robin Memorial Bench: The Design

Simon created the ends to look like old bricks covered in ivy (scroll through the next section for photo). This is reminiscent of much of the old ruins found in Ty Mawr Country Park, where his client was a ranger. He included a pair of robins together which gave a sense of symmetry. It also creates a feeling of a shared life, and the two still being together.

 

close up of a pair of robins carved into a cedar bench.

 

Robin Memorial Bench: Creating the Bench

Simon made the bench out of cedar, one of the top five woods he recommends for a chainsaw carving sculpture. Although the design itself wasn’t complex, it’s always a challenge creating a bench to sit straight and level. When the back and seat are 3 inches thick it’s difficult to make it sit right, especially when it’s being installed on a slight incline!

Simon used a little bit of water-based spray stain in a natural brown colour, and then flap sanded strategically to give highlights. He then used Osmo UV exterior oil to enhance the lovely natural colour, clarify the grain, and give some weather resistance. Another coat of oil every six months will keep it looking great!

 

close up of the sides of robin memorial bench by simon o'rourke. the sides are created to look like brick with ivy growing up them

 

Robin Memorial Bench: Testimonial

As with any sculpture, the most important thing is how the client feels about the final product. This is especially true when its purpose is commemorating a loved one. And in the case of this bench, Simon made something that the client is delighted with. She shares:

“Simon has created a bench for my garden in memory of my much-loved husband Robin. It reflects the sandstone walls in our garden and the ivy creeping over the walls with two lovely robins on the back. I love it and Robin would have loved it too. Thank you Si”

 

the name 'rob' is carved into the back of a cedar bench featuring two robins on the back. it is part of the robin memorial bench created by chainsaw artist Simon o'rourke

The client asked for Simon to include her husband’s name on the memorial bench

Your Own Memorial Sculpture

Having a beautiful and meaningful visual piece can be an important part of the grieving and healing process. As such, Simon always regards it as a privilege to create a sculpture that helps clients remember their loved ones.  Contact Simon via the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact/ to commission a memorial for someone special to you or your community.

"The Offering" an oak fairy sculpture in cedar by simon o'rourke

Oak Fairy Sculpture

Oak Fairy Sculpture 450 600 Simon O'Rourke

Simon has created several fairies over the last few years. His fairy sculpture for the Narnia Treehouse was especially popular on social media. His most recent however is very different in style. It’s captivated several viewers, and today we share the story behind the oak fairy sculpture. Thanks go to client Tracy for sharing her story for this blog.

The oak fairy tree carving sculpture by simon o'rourke

Photo taken by client and used with permission

Oak Fairy Sculpture: The Idea

Client Tracy had to have one side of a split trunk oak cut down for safety reasons. Although she was fascinated watching the process, afterwards (we all do this, don’t we?!) she wished that she’d asked them to leave more behind, so she could have a sculpture created in what remained.
Disappointed with herself, she tenaciously Googled Tree Carvers. Tracy very soon found Simon on Instagram, liked his work (who wouldn’t?!) and made contact…

photo shows a split tree oak with a line drawing of an oak fairy sculpture superimposed over the trunk

Oak Fairy Sculpture: Choosing a Design

Simon’s initial response to Tracy was that a carving was possible – but only a low form like a sleeping fox or fairy as it was a stump. She liked the fairy idea but, not in the style of previous fairy sculptures Simon had made. Rather, she envisaged something in the style of Cicely Mary Barker;  the creator of the Flower fairies, but an ‘Oak Fairy’.  When Tracy spoke to Simon, they realised her love of Art Deco and his love of illustrator Arthur Rackham collided and would be the inspiration for the sculpture. Simon then got to work to create a sketch for a 1920s/art deco/Barker/Rackham style fairy.  He sent Tracy the sketch pictured above, and a design was chosen!

close up of the face of simon o'rourke's oak fairy sculpture

The acorn hat Simon created for the fairy is reminiscent of 1920s women’s fashion, reflecting Tracy’s love of Art Deco and the era

Oak Fairy Sculpture: The Creation

Simon worked onsite for this commission, so Tracy was able to watch her sketch (amazingly!) come to life! Simon took a large piece of cedar with him, and over two days brought the oak fairy sculpture to life! Complete with her adorable acorn hat!  One of the advantages of an onsite carving is being able to see the sculpture emerge from the timber. Tracy found it fascinating to watch Simon wield a variety of tools from a large chain saw right down to a very small drill type saw for the intricate work. In her words, it was “just superb”.
If you are considering a sculpture that Simon would carve on-site, we recommend reading this blog about what an on-site sculpture entails.

Simon O'Rourke's oak fairy sculpture

Oak Fairy Sculpture: Finishing Touches

The evening Simon left the sun caught her beautifully and Tracy was particularly pleased she actually seemed to be part of the tree, standing on leaves. Being practical, Tracy’s husband felt she needed protection so they coated her to protect her from the elements. This changed her colour slightly, and has left her with a warmer tone. They have also since had her lit up, which Tracy describes as “the icing on the cake”. She certainly looks lovely! And, after investing in a piece of art like this, it’s great to be able to enjoy her day or night!

oak fairy sculpture by simon o'rourke by night.

Photo from client and used with permission

Oak Fairy Sculpture: Final Thoughts

Simon titled her “The Offering”, and, as some of the comments and messages on social media show, there is something both ethereal and spiritual seeing the fairy offering an acorn back to the aged oak tree. A few weeks ago we shared some fun facts about Maggon the Dragon and shared how a sculpture can take on a life of its own and become part of the home. This sculpture is no different! Tracy is currently in the process of naming the oak fairy sculpture, and is trying to decide between Olette (‘small winged one’) in Latin or Tiana (‘Fairy Queen’ in Russian) as that’s quite close to her name!! What would you name her? Let us know in the comments!

Oak fairy sculpture entitled 'the offering' by simon o'rourke

Commissioning a Sculpture

“The Offering” is a great example of how Simon engages with clients to discover their preferences and passions to create a beautiful, unique piece of art that’s perfect for them.

If you would like to commission a sculpture for your home, community, or business, contact Simon using the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact. We look forward to hearing from you!

Sculptures for world book day by Simon O'Rourke. An Owl sits on top of a tower of books in a 'totem pole' style sculpture.

Sculptures for World Book Day

Sculptures for World Book Day 400 600 Simon O'Rourke

If you have school-aged children you will know next Thursday is World Book Day. We’ve actually heard it might be the most dreaded day of the school year!!! Based on all the Facebook posts of the last-minute scrambling to find a costume, we that could easily be true!
Costume-panic aside though, the mission of World Book Day is fantastic. Reading for pleasure is the single biggest indicator of a child’s future success – more than their family circumstances, their parents’ educational background or their income. And so to engage with the day and celebrate, we wanted to share a selection of literature-related sculptures for world book day…

sculptures for world book day: learning to fly by Simon O'Rourke depicts a child about to soar standing on top of a tower of books

“Learning to Fly” clearly reflects the message and mission of World Book Day

Sculptures for World Book Day: Learning to Fly

This sculpture wasn’t commissioned specifically for World Book Day. However, it does reflect their message well. The child is standing on top of a tower of books, ready to fly which clearly depicts the potential we have to achieve when we have a solid foundation of reading for pleasure.

Our next sculpture has a similar message. In this case though, it is an owl sitting on the book tower though. Owls have long been associated with wisdom and learning, so it subtly reminds us of the wisdom we gain through reading.

Sculptures like this are great for libraries, nurseries, schools etc. Children often struggle to engage with reading, especially in this age of technology. However, gentle but powerful visual reminders like this can capture their attention (more so than an adult telling them!) and reinforce the message that reading is beneficial.

Sculptures for world book day by Simon O'Rourke. An Owl sits on top of a tower of books in a 'totem pole' style sculpture.

Owls are often a symbol for wisdom

Sculptures for World Book Day: Children’s Classics

Of course, you may prefer your World Book Day commission to reflect a favourite book or character. Simon has created many literary-themed sculptures over the years, including some beautiful children’s classics. Who can resist a cute Peter Rabbit (from the Beatrix Potter classics) or Hans Christian Andersen’s beautiful Little Mermaid?

Sculptures for world book day by simon o'rourke. The Little Mermaid from the Hans Christian Andersen classic.

The Little Mermaid is a much-loved children’s classic.

 

Oak sculpture of Peter Rabbit by Simon O'Rourke

Most children in the UK are familiar with Beatrix Potter Tales of Peter Rabbit

Sculptures for World Book Day: Modern Classics

Perhaps modern classics are more your thing. In which case, Simon has you covered! This Charlie and the Chocolate Factory booth was made for Cardiff’s Steak of the Art. It features many of the key characters from the Roald Dahl classic including Charlie, Oompa Loompa’s and the main man, Willy Wonka. How many references can you find?

Will wonka restaurant booth by simon o'rourke

How many ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’ references can you find in this restaurant booth?

Sculptures for World Book Day: Trails

Sculpture trails are a brilliant and fun way to convey information and attract people to your venue. Books are rich with characters and events so it’s easy to tie a trail in with World Book Day – or reading in general. Or perhaps you want to celebrate an author who lived in your home town and draw visitors. to the area. Simply choose the book or author, and Simon can create a series of sculptures to be installed around the venue or town. One such trail in his portfolio is his Alice in Wonderland series created for a location in Scotland. The full series has ten sculptures, but here’s four to whet your appetite!
A trail like this is a great year-round attraction, but could become a key part of your World Book Day events and activities.

sculptures for world book day: alice in wonderland series by simon o'rourke

Sculptures for World Book Day: All-Age Classics

Over the years Simon has also created some incredible sculptures of characters from literary classics enjoyed by all ages, which could also become a feature of a World Book Day activity. When we think of classic books that all generations can enjoy, one of the first to come to mind has to be Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. In fact,vital they rank at 12 and 7 respectively in the top 25 best selling books of all times. It’s no wonder then that Simon’s Lord of the Rings sculptures have also been incredibly popular when we’ve shared them.

Gollum and the Monkey Puzzle Ent are both more recent sculptures that can be viewed by the public at Poulton Hall when it is open. Radagast the Brown was a private commission, which is all the more reason to share it here so you can enjoy it too!

sculptures for world book day: gollum by simon o'rourke

Gollum is one of the characters in the classic Middle Earth series by Tolkien

 

Monkey Puzzle Ent sculpture by simon o'rourke

The Ent are a race of treefolk in the Tolkien Middle Earth books

 

radagast the brown. a sculpture in fir by simon o'rourke

This sculpture of Radagast the Brown gave new life to a diseased tree

Sculptures for World Book Day: Upcoming Sculptures

If you read our new year blog, you’ll know Simon has some more exciting literature-related commissions coming up this year. We can’t wait to share them with you! And we hope that they will somehow play a part in encouraging reading for pleasure as the sculpture prompts reading or re-reading of the book.
But we’d love to know…. who are your favourite literary characters, and which would you like to see Simon create?

As always, if you would like to see one of them realised, contact Simon via the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact/

open book by simon o'rourke

Sculptures for World Book Day: Final Thoughts

Lastly, reading is SO vital in reaching our full potential, but sadly access to good books is a privilege many are denied – even in the UK! So if you are interested in the valuable work of World Book Day you can find out more about getting involved at https://www.worldbookday.com/about-us/how-can-you-get-involved/. Whether you’re a teacher looking for resources for class, a parent thinking of ways to engage your children busy, or just somebody who would like to make reading more accessible for others, there’s something for you!

 

Romance-Themed Sculptures: A Valentine’s Blog

Romance-Themed Sculptures: A Valentine’s Blog 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

This Sunday is Valentine’s Day. We know not everybody is a fan of this festival of all things pink and glittery! But! Whether you are a romantic who loves indulging or a hater of the ‘Hallmark Holiday’, we hope you enjoy this Valentine’s blog featuring some of Simon’s romance-themed sculptures…

Romance-themed sculptures by Simon O'Rourke. A wooden sculpture of Beauty and the Beast dancing together.

Beauty and the Beast.

Romance-Themed Sculptures: Beauty and the Beast

For many people, Disney movies are one of their earliest exposures to ‘love stories’, and “Beauty and the Beast” is arguably one of the best-loved. Even therapists who usually find the problems in Disney relationships acknowledge this romance to be a positive example! And we think Simon’s sculpture of the famous duo captures the story perfectly. The gentle hand-holding, warm smiles and gazing into each other’s eyes shows a real sweetness and tenderness. A lovely depiction of the couple! And for those who enjoy watching Simon at work, we even have a timelapse:

Romance-Themed Sculptures: Lancelot and Guinevere

The next of our romance-themed sculptures is this event piece from 2010 of Lancelot and Guinevere. Their story is one of the most often-told love stories, with countless movies, TV shows, pieces of art and literature being dedicated to the couple. Even Tennyson wrote a poem based on their romance!
We believe that even if someone had never heard of them before, this sculpture tells a lot about their romance. Their eyes alone tell a story!
Simon named this sculpture ‘Forbidden Fruit’. As he carved, his goal was to convey that sense of forbidden romance. That’s why he depicted the characters beneath a fruit tree – a hint to the story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit in the book of Genesis.

Romance-themed sculptures by Simon O'Rourke. a wooden sculpture of lancelot and guinevere. She kneels at his feet as he gazes into her eyes.

Lancelot & Guinevere

Romance-Themed Sculptures: Romeo & Juliet

The third of our romance-themed sculptures is Shakespeare’s Star-Crossed Lovers: Romeo and Juliet.
Simon made this sculpture for Plas Coch holiday park many years ago.  The trees had grown to be entwined, so they were the perfect base for depicting this tragic pair.

romeo and juliet carved into two intertwined tree trunks. It is one of Simon O'Rourkes romance-themed sculptures.

Romeo and Juliet

As well as the couple themselves, Simon also engraved a quote from the famous play. That quote is split between the two trees, giving them another point of connection and the sense of the one belonging with the other…

This bud of love, by summer’s ripening breath, May prove a beauteous flower when next we meet.

Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, act two, scene two

tree trunk engraved with a quote from Romeo and Juliet

 

Romance-Themed Sculptures: Wedding Rings

The last of our romance-themed sculptures is one of the classic symbols of enduring love: wedding rings.
We don’t often share Simon’s ‘wearables’, but as well as sculptures he used to make beautiful wearable wooden items such as bow ties, cufflinks, and these gorgeous wedding rings.

In many cultures, the simple wedding band is a sign of eternal love, and it’s typically made of precious metal to symbolise the precious nature of the relationship. However, with more people becoming concerned about how their metals are sourced, couples are beginning to look at other options.
These wooden rings are a beautiful alternative, whether you are concerned with sustainability, or just prefer something a bit different.

 

Final Thoughts

And so we come to the end of our 2021 Valentine’s Blog, and our flashback to some of Simon’s romance-themed sculptures.
We hope that whether you are in a relationship or single that this weekend you will know you are valued, and loved. And whether you love or loathe the day itself, why not use it as an excuse for reaching out to a friend or loved one?

If you would like to commission a sculpture, please use the contact form on www.treecarving.co.uk/contact. We’re looking forward to hearing from you!

Game of thrones sculpture: photo shows the dragon eggs on the left, and the eggs being held in the casket made by simon o'rourke on the right

Game of Thrones Sculpture – Two Years On

Game of Thrones Sculpture – Two Years On 1024 576 Simon O'Rourke

In January 2019 Simon revealed what was one of his most exciting projects at that stage in his career: The Dragon Casket for HBO’s Game of Thrones. We shared about the project at the time in our For the Throne blog. It’s fun to revisit projects though, so this week we revisit the Game of Thrones sculpture, two years on….

Game of thrones sculpture by simon o'rourke. A casket reminiscent of a dragon mouth, containing three dragon eggs

Simon’s Game of Throne’s sculpture was part of the advertising for season eight of HBO’s Game of Thrones

The Brief

Simon’s Game of Thrones sculpture was part of the advertising for the eighth season of HBO’s hit show Game of Thrones. The company gave select artists from around the world props from the show. Each artist then created something around that prop. Viewers were also invited to share their fan art in a campaign known as #ForTheThrone. Simon received the dragon eggs given to Daenery as a wedding gift, and created a casket to hold them. To see his reaction as he unpacked them, watch the video below…

The Design

When Simon created the casket, he had a few practical considerations to take into account. This included the eggs sitting securely, the casket standing without support, and being transportable. As well as being functional, his goal was to also create something that was beautiful and told a story…

Artist simon o'rourke, his wife Liz and dog kneel either side of his game of thrones sculpture; a dragon-mouth egg casket

Symbolism in the Sculpture

Simon’s skill and a lovely piece of yew ensured the sculpture was practical, striking and beautiful. There were a few things that Simon did too that created a sense of story…

Incorporating Elements of Dragon Anatomy

Viewers know that dragons are an important part of Game of Thrones. Using dragon anatomy in the design (primarily wings, teeth and scaly texture) reflected this – as well as the fact the eggs themselves were dragon eggs.

Simon O'Rourke using a chainsaw to create his game of thrones sculpture: a dragon egg casket

Simon at work creating the dragon wings that shroud the eggs

Mismatched Teeth

The mismatched teeth serve several purposes. They help hold the eggs in place which was essential for safe travel! Missing teeth and the texture give a sense of something ancient. The asymmetry also makes it feel edgy – dangerous even – and uncomfortable.

close up of the mismatched dragon teeth on simon o'rourke's game of thrones sculpture: a dragon casket for holding and carrying dragon eggs

The mismatched and broken teeth convey a sense of danger

Ash Wood Poles

Simon chose to use poles to transport the casket. This was not only functional, but the fact it was then carried by four people heightened the sense that this was important, valuable cargo.

Yew Wood

Although this wasn’t intentional, Simon also realised that the markings and colour of the yew he used to make it were reminiscent of Daenerys’ hair! Not intentional, but it added to the overall impact of the sculpture!

simon o'rourke's dragon casket (game of thrones sculpture)

Experiencing the Sculpture

In the TV show, the eggs are not just viewed. Their appearance and the sense of mystery surrounding them invites people to touch them. Each person then experiences something different. For example, Daenerys is the only one who can sense something living inside them.
Simon wanted to create something similar with this sculpture, and did this largely with texture. Things like the smooth wings emerging from the rough bark left with it’s natural markings, contrasting again with the dragon’s mouth, invite touch. The uneven texture and natural curves and knots means each person who touches it will also experience something different – just like the eggs.

open mouth of simon o'rourke's egg casket (game of thrones sculpture)

The contrasting textures invite people to explore the sculpture through touch

Simon’s Reflection

At the time, Simon was extremely honoured and excited to be taking part in this campaign, along with artists including Jeff Soto, Robert Ball, and Eva Eskelinen. In thinking about the Game of Thrones sculpture now, two years on, and the response people had, Simon and his wife Liz feel just as honoured…

“[we were] just so humbled for Simon’s work to get the responses it did and humbled at how many people love Simon’s work and follow him on our social media platforms. It inspires him to keep going, knowing how much people appreciate his art and his creativity and passion for what he does.”

Game of thrones sculpture: photo shows the dragon eggs on the left, and the eggs being held in the casket made by simon o'rourke on the right

Always New!

One of the things with revisiting art, is that there is always something new to see or experience. In looking back at this Game of Thrones sculpture, what stood out to you that was different this time? Let us know in the comments.

We hope you enjoyed looking back at this landmark project with us. And, as always, if you would like to chat with Simon about your own commission, contact us using the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact/.

 

 

george clark stands next to sculpter simon o'rourke. they are in front of a small brick building with a redwood fire breathing dragon mounted on the wall. the dragon is made of redwood and was one of simon's sculptures of 2020

Sculptures of 2020

Sculptures of 2020 960 1280 Simon O'Rourke

HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Wishing you all a healthy and prosperous 2021 with much less turbulence than 2020. Thank you to all those who have continued to support us through this year through commissions, sharing, commenting. We value you all.
Before launching into 2021, here is a month by month highlight of Simon’s sculptures of 2020…

sculptures of 2020: close up of the face of a lion. Carved by Simon O'Rourke

This lion was one of Simon’s last sculptures of 2020

 

SCULPTURES OF 2020: JANUARY

January started with some smaller projects including one which is still a secret! The ‘highlight’ we’ve chosen though is The Marbury Lady. She was commissioned to give life back to an elm that had sadly died from saline poisoning. She’s in a public location in Marbury Park, so if you are in Cheshire you can enjoy a walk and see her in person.

simon o'rourke's sculptures of 2020: photo shows the marbury lady in northwich

SCULPTURES OF 2020: FEBRUARY

For February’s highlight, we’ve chosen this hiker. He was commissioned to stand on a disused platform at Prestatyn Railway Station. The plan was to install and unveil him in March, but then a global pandemic hit, and you know the rest! As things begin to open up again though it will be possible for travellers to Prestatyn to view the sculpture.

Life size oak culpture of a hiker carrying a backpack. He leans on a signpost. One of Simon O'Rourkes sculptures of 2020

SCULPTURES OF 2020: MARCH

March was the month that the UK turned upside down! The rumours and stories from other countries suddenly became our story too. Before lockdown happened though, Simon was able to complete a few sculptures, including George and the Dragon. Our chosen highlight though is this massive Oak Maiden on a private estate in Surrey. The tree had died, and Simon was able to create this stunning oak maiden using the natural fall of the oak tree’s shape as inspiration. In this photo the oak maiden isn’t finished yet, but we love the way it gives a sense of scale. Also featuring one of Simon’s trusty Stihl chainsaws used to make the sculpture!

simon o rourke stands in a cherry picker next to the oak maiden sculpture he created in a dead oak tree. sculptures of 2020.

SCULPTURES OF 2020: APRIL

During April the workshop was closed, and Simon wasn’t working on commissions. This first lockdown gave him opportunity to work on another project though: his art coaching. During the month, Simon created the first in a series of teaching videos available at https://artcoach.teachable.com/
If you are interested in an online art course and not sure if this is the one for you, there is also a short free course there for you to ‘try before you buy’. Find out more in this video!

SCULPTURES OF 2020: MAY

May saw Simon return to carving in his own garden. His first piece was this beautiful, serene memorial sculpture. As an artist being able to help people grieve and heal is a real privilege, so this felt like a special piece. The full story is at https://www.treecarving.co.uk/a-memorial-sculpture-for-robyn/.

sculptures of 2020 by simon o'rourke. A girl is depicted as a fairy sitting surrounded by greenery. A robin sits on her hand as if in conversation with her.

SCULPTURES OF 2020: JUNE

For June we had a couple of sculptures to choose from, but how could we not settle on Maggon the Dragon?! Maggon is a fire breathing dragon commissioned for a holiday rental property in north wales. The property known as The Dragon Tower is INCREDIBLE and even features a folding bathroom. Really! It was featured on George Clark’s Amazing Spaces, which meant Simon also made a small appearance. You can watch the full episode HERE.

george clark stands next to sculpter simon o'rourke. they are in front of a small brick building with a redwood fire breathing dragon mounted on the wall. the dragon is made of redwood and was one of simon's sculptures of 2020

SCULPTURES OF 2020: JULY

Usually, Simon cuts into trees. In July he had to create one! It was commissioned for the entrance to the new Ronald McDonald House in Oxford, and created from one of the trees cleared from the land used for the property. It will hold leaves that bear the names of donors, hence its name: The Giving Tree. Families using the house are often going through some of their hardest times, so being asked to create something which helps to create a beautiful environment for them was an honour.

the giving tree by simon o'rourke

SCULPTURES OF 2020: AUGUST

OK, so this one is a little bit of a cheat, as most of it was created in July. But right at the start of August, Simon finished an exciting sculpture: The Ent at Poulton Hall. Simon loves fantasy and fiction and it ties into his training as an illustrator. There was a historic link between the residents of Poulton Hall and J RR Tolkien, so creating something from Tolkien’s works for the property was a lovely connection. The Ent has been one of Simon’s most popular works of the year, and can be viewed by the public when the grounds are open for visitors. Check for dates at www.poultonhall.co.uk.

monkey puzzle ent sculpture by simon o'rourke. one of his sculptures of 2020

SCULPTURES OF 2020: SEPTEMBER

Are you still with us?!
September’s highlight is another fantasy sculpture. This time, a phoenix rising from the ashes. Made from cedar, it represents the client’s rise from depression. It was an honour to depict such a positive mental change.

phoenix carved into a cedar trunk by artist simon o'rourke, one of his sculptures of 2020

SCULPTURES OF 2020: OCTOBER

In October Simon returned to Poulton Hall to create a sculpture of another Tolkien character: Gollum. Simon is an incredible storyteller through his sculptures, and we love this depiction of Gollum startled whilst catching fish for his dinner. If you have ten minutes, this is a great video where Simon takes you through the process of creating the sculpture. If you prefer to read, why not check out this blog about the process of creating Gollum.

SCULPTURES OF 2020: NOVEMBER

Armistice Day.
11:00am on 11/11/1918.
A day the world should never forget.
Sadly there have been many wars fought since then, with so many lives lost or irrevocably changed, which means November 11th is always a somber occasion. During this year Simon went back and forth on this sculpture which he completed in November: A WWI soldier for public display in Cumbria. We don’t have the details yet, but once we do, we will let you know where you can view him, and take a moment to remember those who gave their lives for the sake of others’ freedom.

World War I soldier in oak. Carved by simon o'rourke.

SCULPTURES OF 2020: DECEMBER

December was a busy month as Simon worked on Christmas commissions as well as some other bigger projects. The workshop looked a little bizarre in all honest with everything from fairies to lions to aliens! As our highlight though we’ve chosen Simon’s final carving of 2020: The Old Oak Father.
The sculpture is on the same property as the Oak Maiden, and the client decided they were Father and daughter. As well as the story on the blog (linked above) you can also hear Simon’s thoughts in the video below if you have five minutes. If not, don’t worry – we’ve included a photo below too!

the old oak father sculpture by simon o'rourke

The Old Oak Father points across the fields to the Oak Maiden

FINAL THOUGHTS

We hope you’ve enjoyed this highlight reel of 2020. If you want to see more of Simon’s works from this year, you can visit his Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.
Although you can use any of these to contact Simon, we recommend using the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact/, especially if you are interested in a commission.
January and February are looking busy next year, so we’re looking forward to sharing some new sculptures with you in the next few weeks, depending how lockdown unfolds.

We hope and pray this year is a good one for each and every one of you, and you are blessed with health, joy, and peace throughout the year, no matter what it holds.

With love from Simon and the team

close up of the face of the old oak father by simon o'rourke

Old Oak Father Sculpture

Old Oak Father Sculpture 1368 1824 Simon O'Rourke

This week Simon completed his final carving for 2020. If you follow us on Facebook, you may already have seen it. It’s a fantastic creation with a lovely story that we wanted to share. So why not grab a cuppa and a mince pie, and keep reading to find out about the Old Oak Father Sculpture…

Simon O'Rourke's Old Oak Father sculpture. The sculpture is carved into a standing tree trunk of a dead tree. It shows a mythical 'treefolk' old man.

The old oak father sculpture in Surrey.

The Story Behind the Name

Sometimes before a sculpture is started, Simon has a story in mind. And sometimes that story evolves. This is one of those times.
Earlier in the year Simon completed a sculpture of an oak maiden. There were other dead or dying trees on the property, so this week he returned to create another sculpture.
This sculpture actually points in the direction of the Oak Maiden which is a few fields away, and the client decided this sculpture is her father.

the old oak father sculpture by simon o'rourke

The Old Oak Father points across the fields to the Oak Maiden

Creating the Old Oak Father

Before Simon arrived on site, a tree surgeon cut the dying oak to the right size. It’s actually really helpful if this can happen beforehand, and can save on some costs too. Incidentally, if you are looking for a good tree surgeon, we recommend TreeTech.
Simon had drawn a sketch over a photo of the tree to show the client. That concept sketch was also a basis for him to work from, but as always, he had to be open to change because of the quirks of the tree. This time though there were no surprise cracks, rot, or holes, and the finished sculpture is faithful to the concept sketch.

view from the ground of the old oak father sculpture by simon o'rourke

Mystery and Whimsy

When Simon creates a sculpture, he wants people to feel they’ve seen part of a story. This is a connection with his training in illustration and love of children’s stories, fairy tales, and different worlds.
In this case, Simon wanted him to have a feel of age, eternity, and mystery. To create that feel, he used lots of spirals similar to the trunks of gnarly old trees. That’s why viewing the sculpture feels like meeting an old man. Well, that and the beard!!!
Spirals also add a sense of mystery and intrigue. The lines are forever disappearing, and you never reach the beginning or end, adding to the sense of age and eternity.
There is also wisdom, acceptance, and calm in his eyes – like one who has witnessed many things and found his peace with the world.

That ancient, mysterious feel of the finished piece inspired Simon to write a beautiful short story:

The Oak Father…
The old oak,
bereft of leaves,
leaned into the oncoming winds of winter.
He would weather it like he always had done,
close his eyes once more,
and dream of Spring.
close up of the face of the old oak father by simon o'rourke

Connection & Relationship

There is also a lot about ‘connection’ in this sculpture. The organic lines and the sculpture using the natural shape of the tree very much connect it with the earth. The direction of his gaze, pointing hand, and similarity of style connect this old oak father with his daughter. And the viewer becomes connected when they are drawn into that story.
For those who are interested, Simon shares his thoughts on that sense of connection and relationship as well as on the sculpture itself in this five-minute video…

The Aging Oak Maiden

Obviously Simon couldn’t resist popping on the original Oak Maiden to see how she’s doing too while he was on the property. She’s looking great and aging nicely with those darker hues and deeper shadows enhancing the sculpture

oak maiden sculpture by simon o'rourke

Write Your Own Story

We hope you’ve enjoyed finding out a bit more about the Old Oak Father sculpture. And if he inspires any storytelling in you, why not drop us a comment or send us an email to let us know? It’s always great to hear how Simon’s work has impacted you.

You can email him using the form on www.treecarving.co.uk/contact which is also the best way to contact Simon if you would like to commission a sculpture.

Next blog we’ll be back with the sculpture highlights of 2020, and until then wish you all a Merry Christmas.

How to commission a sculpture: picture shows a side by side of Simon O'rourke's original sketch and a finished sculpture of George and the Dragon. Minor changes were made to accomodate the flaws in the wood

How to Commission A Sculpture

How to Commission A Sculpture 960 960 Simon O'Rourke

How do I commission a sculpture?

If you find yourself thinking about commissioning a bespoke wood sculpture, you may be wondering where to start. The first thing is I want to make it as easy as possible for you to commission your own sculpture! So this is how I guide you through that process…

Bulldog sculpture by simon o'rourke. Visit blog to find out how to commission a sculpture of your own pet

Pets portraits are a popular subject for commissions

How to Commission A Sculpture: The Timber.

If you have your own tree stem you would like me to sculpt, I’ll need to see as many pictures as possible. I also need to know what the dimensions are. It’s not always possible for me to visit and see it for myself, so it’s important I get all the information so that I can give a price. At this stage, I can tell you what species the tree is and how suitable for sculpting it is. You can also check the basic requirements for yourself too in this blog about the suitability of your tree for a sculpture.

If you don’t have a tree or a log, or your own wood isn’t suitable, don’t worry! I can source any size of good quality timber.

How to commission a sculpture: photo shows a sketch of a man measuring the circumference of the tree to check if it is suitable for a sculpture.

Measuring dimensions is one of the first steps in determining the suitability of a tree for a bespoke wooden sculpture.

 

How to Commission A Sculpture: The Design

The next step is to discuss designs. Prior to producing any drawings, I ask for a deposit to secure the commission. I start with verbal ideas of what can be done, and can give examples of the quality and style in which your sculpture will be created.

Once you’re happy with my ideas, and a 50% deposit is paid, I will produce a drawing of what your sculpture will look like. Depending on the limitations of the wood, or unseen anomalies in the wood, the design may alter slightly when I create the sculpture.

How to commission a sculpture: picture shows a side by side of Simon O'rourke's original sketch and a finished sculpture of George and the Dragon. Minor changes were made to accomodate the flaws in the wood

This side by side of George and the Dragon shows some of the minor changes that may be needed.

How to Commission A Sculpture: The Creation

When the creation of the sculpture has begun, I record the process, either with still photos or using time-lapse photography. It’s always exciting to see the figure emerging from the wood! As an example, you can watch the timelapse of the St George and the Dragon sculpture below. Or check out my You Tube Channel and Facebook page for more.

On completion of the sculpture, whether it was completed at my workshop or created from your own tree, the most satisfying part of the process is seeing the delight on your face when you see the finished piece!

How to Commission a Sculpture: Telling Your Story

Your sculpture is a part of your story. That’s why I want to make it as easy as possible for you to commission your very own beautiful sculpture. Whether it’s a much-loved pet, a reflection of a passion/hobby, or something to reflect your heritage, it’s a privilege to create it.

Hot to commission a sculpture: A couple stand either side of a sculpture of a Sri Lankan lion, commissioned to reflect their heritage

This Sri Lankan Lion sculpture reflects the heritage of the client

If you would like to commission a sculpture or chat more, contact me via the form on www.treecarving.co.uk/contact. You can also read more testimonials on my Testimonials page.

Photo shows a comparison of Simon O'Rourke's original sketch for a wooden Sherlock Holmes bust and the finished sculpture.

This Sherlock Holmes bust was commissioned as a gift for a fan.

Please note: We hope you can appreciate that at certain times of the year, Simon’s calendar can get quite full. We do encourage you to get in touch as soon as possible if your commission is needed for a specific occasion like a birthday or anniversary, so he can do his best to fit it in.