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.