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Page’s Wood: Installed!

Page’s Wood: Installed! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

Last week saw Simon travel down to London to install the sculpture trail in Page’s Wood that we featured in our blog two weeks ago. We can now say that the 12 sculptures are safely in their new home, ready for the warmer weather, the upcoming Easter holidays, and all the extra people we hope will choose to spend some family time exploring outdoors.

 

Page’s Wood Tawny Owl

 

It’s a satisfying feeling to see a sculpture go from a sketch and a proposal, through the process of bringing it shape and life in the timber, to the final stage of seeing it in its new home, where often, sitting it its ‘right’ environment seems to bring more life and colour to the piece. Looking at these montages, what do you think?

 

Page’s Wood Frog by Simon O’Rourke

 

It’s also a privilege for us when our art also serves a greater purpose. We believe art will always have purpose for its own sake, but in the case of this sculpture trail, it also serves to encourage people (children especially) to finish a walk when it might be more tempting (if your kids are anything like some of the ones we know!) to return to a game of Fortnite, or for the grown ups, return to the to-do list of jobs around the house!

The animals themselves reflect the local population and help raise awareness of the environment around us, and the stories help educate the reader about what we can do to help steward and protect that environment. We hope that as people wander these two trails, not only will they enjoy finding and viewing the sculptures, but they will also warm to the characters and feel inspired to take small steps to help protect their beautiful surroundings.

We’ll leave you with the full range of sculptures in their woodland setting, in the order of the stories. If you happen to be walking through Page’s Wood why not take a photo with the animals along the trail, and tag us in it. We’d love to see you ‘meeting’  our timber friends, and hear what you thought!

 

TRAIL ONE

Verity Vole

 

Verity meets a dragonfly

 

Verity meets a frog

 

Verity meets a newt

 

Verity meets a Reed Warbler

 

Riverside reed bench reflecting the animals and environment along the riverbank

 

TRAIL TWO

Horatio Hedgehog

 

Horatio meets an owl

 

Horatio meets a badger

 

Horatio meets a squirrel

 

Horatio meets a fox

 

Final bench of the woodland trail, reflecting the animals and environment

It Takes a (Lego) Village

It Takes a (Lego) Village 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

What could the well-known proverb in the title and Lego possibly have to do with tree carving?!

Well, it’s our privilege and joy both as a company and in our personal lives to be able to share what we have, and use it to help, support, sow into, and encourage others – whether that be with time, energy, or finances. In the past Simon has auctioned off various carvings and the gift of bespoke carving to order for a range of charities including local hospices and national charities. This week we were excited to pop over to England and plant a Lego tree which represented our donation to The Big Lego Brick Hospital fundraiser for a new Clatterbridge Cancer Centre. Read on for the full story……!!!

Planting our Lego tree on the model Clatterbridge

 

A chance encounter last year led to us running a  fundraiser for Clatterbridge Hospital from our workshop in North Wales. They are building a new Cancer Centre in Liverpool, and have been running a scheme where people can sponsor things like bricks, flower beds, benches and even figures of staff, to help build a model hospital out of Lego, which is a copy of the actual hospital which is currently under construction.
With half a million bricks and an army of builders, the Lego hospital itself is something worth checking out! When it’s finished it’ll be just under three metres long and almost two metres high. It will taken around 1000 hours over two years to build, and will hopefully have raised £500,000 for the Clatterbridge charity by the time it is completed. If you look closely you will find over 100 rooms with chemotherapy clinics, radiotherapy machines, toilet blocks, kitchens, lift shafts, MRI scanners, and more, including 150 hospital beds! As an artist, and a team that loves creativity and ingenuity, we can’t help but be impressed! OK, and let’s be honest, aside from the artistry and engineering, nobody ever really outgrows their appreciation of all things Lego!

Comparison of the lego construction with the current build as of 17/01/19

 

Our fundraiser itself was held just before Christmas, and we opened the doors of our workshop and welcomed people for mince pies, cake, tea and coffee. They had the opportunity to wander round the workshop and see works in progress as well as completed pieces, and even got to have their photo taken with a dragon! With donations and the raffle, we raised around £250, which enabled us to buy a tree in the model hospital.

One of our youngest visitors exploring the workshop – photographed with Groot and Hemlock the Dragon

 

Jo, one of our team at the fundraiser where she was able to share about the great care she has received from Clatterbridge staff with some of the other guests

 

It’s always a privilege to be able to contribute and invest in something which will play such a vital part in the lives of others. This fundraiser took on more meaning for us though, when we realised that one of our team (Jo) here at Simon O’Rourke Tree Carving has often been taken care of on a Clatterbridge ward! And so, it was an even greater privilege to be able to go this week and plant our tree, knowing that we are investing in something that not only benefits and serves the wider community, but directly impacts and helps one of our own team and friends.

Jo pictured with two of the nurses who have helped look after her recently – thanks to Leanne and Aysha who are not only awesome nurses, but were still willing to take a photo for their patient at the end of a shift!

A huge thank you to those who came and visited the workshop and donated to the fundraiser. Every little helps, and whether it be investing to get a facility built, or walking alongside those who will need to use this hospital, it really does ‘take a village’, and we are thankful for ours!

Y Ddraig Derw: An Adventure Worth Telling

Y Ddraig Derw: An Adventure Worth Telling 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

IT SIMPLY ISN’T AN ADVENTURE WORTH TELLING IF THERE AREN’T ANY DRAGONS

A quick internet search shows nobody really knows who said this any more (it was attributed to J R R Tolkien for a long time), but it seems it still holds true that there is just something about a dragon story which captures imagination, and keeps being retold – especially here in Wales, where dragons have been linked with the identity of the nation since the 7th century!

Having shared already that the year has a bit of ‘dragon’ theme for us, last week saw us working on a dragon sculpture which was carved on location in beautiful North Wales: ‘Y Ddraig Derw‘ (The Oak Dragon).
Even in process, our latest dragon captured the attention and hearts of people who saw it in person and online, and since then we have been overwhelmed by the positive messages we’ve received, the volume of shares online, and the number of people choosing to re-tell the story of this carving. Even the Daily Post  and BBC reported our story! We’re grateful and humbled by it all, but also delighted so many of you have already been able to enjoy our Dragon of Bethesda.

THE COMMISSION

Several years ago, a 200 year old oak split, and half that fell was lying across a rock.  Sometimes in carving, we find the tree and sometimes the tree finds us! In this case it was the latter. The type of tree, the length, positioning and its 30″ diameter meant this was a piece of timber begging to be carved! The commission itself came from the owner of the arboretum close to Bangor, Dr Alofs.

 

 

THE CARVE

Y Ddraig Derw took six days to complete, making the most of the hours of daylight that we had. It was carved entirely on-site which also meant a good work out, as we had decided to create a ‘full dragon’, which meant carrying pieces up to use for the wings and legs! With wood that large and heavy, the process of incorporating them into the sculpture isn’t easy, but with patience and team work, we got there! The first few days focused on the head and then the shape and movement in the body, with the last two focused on texture and details. For those who would like to see more of the process, we uploaded video like this one during the week on our Facebook page.

THE FINISHED PIECE

The finished sculpture is about 25′ long, and overlooks the road. With its craning head and open mouth, it looks like a guard dragon, roaring over those who would seek to enter its territory! Although it is on private land, there are a few public footpaths nearby for viewing, and it is visible from the southbound A5 between the first and second exits.

VISTING THE DRAGON

Although Y Ddraig Derw is visible from the road, it’s in a bit of a tricky spot to stop for photos. We’d love for you to see him in person, but encourage you all to do it safely please! For exact location and tips for parking, please visit THIS POST on our Facebook page (it’s public, so you don’t need Facebook to see it).

Thank you once again for all the kind words and encouragement, and to those of you who have also shared photos – it’s always great to hear from you, and to see you enjoying our pieces.

PS For those of you who can’t get to this dragon, why not have one of our dragons come to you? Hemlock the Dragon is available for hire for shows, weddings, parties etc, and is always a big hit!

 

Photos of Y Ddraig Derw at night are taken by local photographer Derfel Owen and used with permission

Autumnal fun!

Autumnal fun! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

The wonderful fruits of the season are upon us, and boy have we been enjoying them!

September saw us heading down to London for Landscape 2017,  our very first landscape and design trade show. That was really good fun and we made some good contacts.

October has been busy making an apple trail for Erddig house, Wrexham,  where Simon’s ‘Artist in Residency’ is going very well indeed, and he has also been making a large bespoke sculpture trail for a community group on the Wirral that he has written the actual story for.

This colourful month has also had Dan making some stunning Oak table legs for our new friends at Concrete designs in Cheshire, and Simon and I attending the Llangollen food festival,  where the general public got to ride Hemlock the Dragon in aid of the Welsh Air Ambulance service,  and others registered to take part in the first official Welsh pumpkin carving championships that Simon proudly precided over.

Winner to be announced on Halloween!

Other exciting news is that our Shop page is now LIVE on our website, and so you can now see all the fab items we have for sale in our mezzanine gallery at the workshop!!

Off now for a very well earned few days rest whilst Dan holds the fort!

More adventures soon!

 

 

 

 

We Also Make Furniture!

We Also Make Furniture! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

Most of the news focus has naturally been on my sculpture work, but there’s so much more to the business!

I employed Daniel Barnes over two years ago, primarily to create furniture from the wonderful left over timber from my sculptures…

Take a look here at a few of the beautiful items Daniel has made…

Website Relaunch!

Website Relaunch! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

Welcome, website visitors old and new, to this – my new website!

In the coming days I’ll be getting back to posting updates on all the different projects I’m working on but, for now, the big news is that TreeCarving.co.uk has got a facelift. What do you think?

I’m personally very chuffed with the result, and I want to thank Fotofire LTD for all their hard work.

In the Air Again

In the Air Again 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

I am currently on my way to Denmark as one half of the UK team taking part in the Blokhus Sculpture festival. (Harry Thomas is the other half.)

While I’m away, I’ve uploaded a couple of YouTube videos to keep you entertained and up to date (here and here).

And, as always, you can follow me on Facebook and Instagram for more regular updates.

 

view-of-airport-

 

Sculpture Sketches

Sculpture Sketches 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

Now back home in Wales after all the fun that was the Husky Cup, I’m doing a few on-site jobs and just generally getting back into things. Today, I thought I’d share some sketches with you – I always draw things up before carving.

So, below is a sketch of a historical commission I have coming up.

 

sculpture_sketches

You can find sketches of my winning entry from last week over here, on my Facebook Page.

Viking Attack!

Viking Attack! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

Viking-Carving

Quick update from here at the Husky Cup: the theme for this year is Vikings attacking an English village. You can see how I’m getting on with my response in the photo, below. Definitely an emotional one. These were violent and turbulent times and some viewers may find the topic disturbing – be warned!