sculpture

Wellington Heath Jubilee Sculpture

Wellington Heath Jubilee Sculpture 426 600 Simon O'Rourke

What else could we blog about on this Jubilee weekend, but the Wellington Heath Jubilee sculpture?!
As the BBC reported, the sculpture actually commemorates not just one, but two jubilee celebrations. A doubly suitable subject for this weekend’s blog!

 

wellington heath jubilee sculpture. a tree trunk with wildlife carved into it and a bird of prey carved on top by simon o'rourke. There is a road in the background and a dog to the right

Poppy gives her seal of approval to the Wellington Heath Jubilee Sculpture!

Background to the Wellington Heath Jubilee Sculpture

How exactly does this one sculpture commemorate two royal jubilees?
The oak tree was initially planted in 1897 to celebrate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee (60 years). Sadly, it died about two years ago. The parish council wanted to turn it into something meaningful rather, and suggested something to mark Queen Elizabeth’s platinum jubilee.The villages jumped at the suggestion, and so the idea was born! When they contacted Simon, the story and history behind it captured his attention – as well as the chance to create a large public piece in a lovely village!

close up of the bird of prey that features at the top of Simon O'Rourke's wellington heath jubilee sculpture, a collage of local wildlife carved into the trunk of a dead oak tree

Details in the Wellington Heath Jubilee Sculpture

The sculpture is one of Simon’s ‘Wildlife Pillars’ that have been proving quite popular recently with followers on social media. In fact, wildlife has been one of his most requested subjects, whether individual animals, pillars like this one, or his trails at Meadow Park, Fforest Fawr, Page’s Wood and Picton. There’s no room for boredom though! Wildlife is an infinitely varied, beautiful theme and Simon loves to explore the textures and shapes that make up the forms of animals.
chainsaw carver simon o'rourke stands to the left of an oak tree trunk and is carving into it with a stihl chainsaw. He wears a powercap ear, airway and eye protection.

Simon O’Rourke at work on the Wellington Heath Jubilee sculpture

For this pillar, Simon’s brief was to include animals from the local area. In particular, the client wanted a large bird of prey at the top, which they decided would be a red kite.

The only anomaly is a small monkey!
The story behind this is that Wellington Heath is (perhaps a little bizarrely!) known locally as monkey island. Once you know that, the monkey makes much more sense!
A close up of a carving in a tree trunk by simon o'rourke. the carving is a small monkey peering over the top of a banner that wraps around the trunk

This monkey detail is a fun nod at the history/former reputation of Wellington Heath

As well as the wildlife, the sculpture features a scroll. As well as giving it a more regal feel, it reads VR 1897 – EIIR 2022, reminding people of the occasion behind the sculpture.

 

two men stand either side of a tree trunk that has been carved into a sculpture featuring wildlife and a scroll. The photo shows the scroll that reads VR 1897 - EIIR 2022

Peter Constantine and David Darwood were both involved in commissioning the jubilee sculpture. The banner gives a regal touch as well as showing what it commemorates. Photo credit: BBC

 

Creating the Wellington Heath Jubilee Sculpture

The Wellington Heath Jubilee sculpture took about five days to create, including assembling and taking down the scaffolding. As is typical of using a natural material, the tree threw Simon some surprises!

There was a surprising patch of rot in the top section which he had to work around. That meant changing the position of the kite, and adding the second wing rather than using two existing branch stubs as planned.
a red kite carved into the top of an old oak tree trunk

The Kite at the top of the Wellington Heath Jubilee sculpture had to be reworked due to rot

There were also pockets of rot in old branch wounds around the tree. Simon was able to hollow those out though to leave nesting spaces for birds and bats in the hope that the local wildlife will still find the tree a useful place!
Finally,  another challenge was the number of nails he hit! Over the years the tree had been used as a local place for nailing notices.  Metal fragments are NOT a chainsaw’s friend, so this meant Simon spent a lot of time sharpening the chainsaws!!!
swallow details in the wellington heath jubilee sculpture

Swallow details in the sculpture

The Finished Piece

The final sculpture stands around 5m tall and is hopefully something people will enjoy for many more years. We’re sure that when it was planted, nobody envisioned that one day it would become this sculpture (after all, chainsaws at the time were very basic and only used for surgery!) but it’s nice to think they would also be proud of it.

 

chainsaw artist simon o'rourke stands next to the finished wellington heath jubilee sculpture. the piece is a variety of local wildlife carved into a 5m tall trunk from a dead oak tree.

Simon with the finished Wellington Heath Jubilee Sculpture.

 

It’s not too late to commission a jubilee sculpture for your own community!

If you’re interested, please contact Simon via www.treecarving.co.uk/contact and we look forward to hearing your ideas!

 

simon o'rourke standing next to 2022 sandringham cup winner, 'Ascension'. She is a 9' tall ethereal female form, thinly veiled and looking upwards, ascending yet held back slightly by her veil. There is lots of sawdust and a gazebo in the background as she is freshly carved. Simon is holding his prize cup

2022 Sandringham Cup Winner

2022 Sandringham Cup Winner 600 600 Simon O'Rourke

The May bank holiday weekend marked a return to competitive carving for Simon after a four-year break. And he didn’t just compete! His sculpture ‘Ascension’ was spectacular and he earned the title of 2022 Sandringham Cup winner.

 

Simon O'Rourke being crowned the 2022 Sandringham cup winner. Her stands in the middle of a scaffold platform holding his cup. Two men (second and third) stand either side of him.

Simon receiving the 2022 Sandringham cup winner’s cup.

 

Sandringham Cup

Before talking about the sculpture that made Simon the 2022 Sandringham Cup winner, what is the Sandringham cup?!

The competition is part of The Sandringham Food, Craft & Wood Festival. This year 15 chainsaw carvers from around the UK took part, and each had three days to produce a carving of a design of their choosing. Logs were chosen via a draw, and competitors had the weekend to create their sculptures.

Judging then took place on the final day, with the top placing sculptures going up for auction.

The competition is organised by Mark Earp of Hebsta Chainsaw Art, who did a fantastic job once again in getting it all up and running and keeping the carvers organised!

 

A large piece of timber stands in front of a gazebo in a field. It's the set up for the 2022 sandringham cup, a chainsaw carving event and the timber is that chosen by 2022 sandringham cup winner, simon o'rourke

The timber chosen by Simon for his 2022 Sandringham Cup sculpture.

 

Choosing a Subject for the 2022 Sandringham Cup

Simon chose a piece of Corsican Pine for his sculpture in the draw. That was the timber sorted, but how did he choose his subject?

One of the things he likes about the Sandringham Cup is that carvers are free to create anything they want. Large scale human form sculptures are one of Simon’s favourite things to carve, so that was a natural starting point.

Prior to the event, he’d been experimenting with ‘wind blow’ sculptures, but on a much smaller scale. He wanted to create something similar on a larger scale to challenge himself – and carving drapery and creating a figure under cloth is definitely a big challenge!

And for those curious about the scale, ‘Ascension’ is about 9′ tall!

 

a photo of the 2022 sandringham cup winner in front of the gazebo with lots of sawdust surrounding her. she is a windblown, veiled female carved in corsican pine by simon o'rourke and stands around 9' tall

Understanding ‘Ascension’ (2022 Sandringham Cup Winner)

After just over two day’s carving, Simon finished his piece ‘Ascension’. The ethereal, veiled figure captivated people as soon as she was revealed on social media. And it’s unsurprising given she’s not only beautiful but intriguing…

There is no figure inside the cloth, just the impression. This is a reflection of how temporal we are as humans.

The figure is ascending, but the veil has a slightly restrictive feel. This indicates the things we clothe ourselves in; the masks we wear, and the impression we give others. That other people only see an impression of who we are, with the person inside remaining hidden, known only by themself.
Simon O'Rourke's sculpture 'Ascension' stands in front of a gazebo in a field with LOTS of sawdust around. She is freshly carved into corsican pine and stands around 9' tall.

Simon set himself the challenge of creating a windswept shrouded female sculpture on a large scale in the 2022 Sandringham Cup

Tips for Other Carvers

Of course, followers of Simon’s work will recognise this style of ‘shrouding’ and mystery from another large scale work, The Marbury Lady. He’s known to excel at creating drapery and movement through his sculptures too, as seen in other works like The Angel at the Pool of Bethesda, The Narnia Treehouse Fairy, The Oak Maiden, and these English Open Chainsaw Competition entries from 2019.

So with this being something of a trademark, what tips can other carvers pick up for creating their own sculptures?

In Simon’s words:

Making wood look like flowing cloth is always a challenge, you have to really feel what the cloth would be doing when the force of a wind pushes it against a form. The other major challenge is creating the detail of the face as if it’s behind a veil. Think about the form underneath, and carve the shape with an extra layer on it, then start working into it revealing the shape underneath.

Final thoughts on the 2022 Sandringham Cup

Obviously being the 2022 Sandringham Cup winner was a bit of a highlight of the weekend.

For Simon though, chainsaw carving events are about more than the competition. It was an opportunity to challenge himself, and to create something he wanted to create rather than a specific commission. The chainsaw carving community is a fun one, so Simon also enjoys being able to connect with friends and make new ones within the community. And, as this event was the one that Simon describes as ‘kickstarting his career’, there’s a touch of nostalgia too.

If you’re a chainsaw carver unsure about competing or joining events, there are massive benefits to the community and experience, so definitely go for it and enter!

 

a group photo of 15 people sitting in a field weating matching sage green t shirts. they are the 2022 sandringham cup chainsaw carving competitors

The 2022 Sandringham Cup competitors.

 

Where is ‘Ascension’ Now?

Although there was an auction for the top pieces (shout out to other winners Mike Jones, Jake Swanson and Matt Crabb), Simon’s reserve wasn’t met. This meant he got to take Ascension home with him, and enjoy her for himself.

At the moment The Leader reports that he’s happy to have Ascension for now and it’s nice to have her ‘home’. However, if you are interested in owning Ascension, Simon is potentially open to selling her. You can email him on [email protected] if you’re interested.

 

simon o'rourke standing next to 2022 sandringham cup winner, 'Ascension'. She is a 9' tall ethereal female form, thinly veiled and looking upwards, ascending yet held back slightly by her veil. There is lots of sawdust and a gazebo in the background as she is freshly carved. Simon is holding his prize cup

Simon with his 2022 Sandringham Cup winner, Ascension

And Finally…

Lastly, thanks to Stihl and Titan Chainsaw Carving for their support of Simon in the 2022 Sandringham Cup.

And if you would like to own your own chainsaw carving sculpture by Simon, please contact him via www.treecarving.co.uk/contact.

marbury lady sculpture by simon o'rourke and the what3words location cook.breath.gangs. the sculpture will be part of Simon O'Rourke's what3words chainsaw carving trail

What3Words Chainsaw Carving Trail

What3Words Chainsaw Carving Trail 600 600 Simon O'Rourke

This week a representative from What3Words approached Simon to ask about using images of the Giant Hand of Vyrnwy, sharing its location with their followers. Of course, the answer was yes! Simon already uses What3Words as part of his work, and has found it extremely helpful. And as soon as they contacted him, something clicked and another idea was born…

 

image showing people sitting in a park. the what3words location is displayed.

Image from what3words

What is What3Words?

Before we talk about the what3words Chainsaw Carving Trail though, let us introduce what3words! For those who haven’t heard of it, what3words is a geocode system. It’s different to anything else out there because it assigns a three-word code to every 3m square of land. That means you can easily share and save precise locations using the website or app – No long GPS codes, and no vague addresses! It’s currently being used for e-commerce and delivery, navigation, emergencies and so much more, and has some massive benefits…

 

Benefits of Using What3Words

As we said, many industries are using what3words. As it directs you to a location within a 3m square of where you need to be, it is much more efficient than a vague address when dealing with roadside telegraph poles, sections of railway track, water pipes, and more. It is set up for voice input and even works when you have no data. All of this combined means it also has massive health and safety benefits, which is how Simon currently uses the app.

 

chainsaw artist simon o'rourke in a cherry picker next to a tall tree carving of a mythical tree woman.

Simon often works alone on large estates and parks and can easily share his exact location using What3Words

 

How Simon Uses What3Words

As you know from our health and safety and chainsaw basics blogs, safety is hugely important to Simon. He’s found that giving what3words locations for his worksite is a way of enhancing his safety practice:

“The accuracy makes any communication much clearer, giving clients, public, and emergency services exact locations”

Imagine you are working on a National Trust property or stately home, such as when he created the Ent, Gollum, and Shakespeare Seat sculptures at Poulton Hall, or the Airman at Highclere. The grounds are huge, and should there be an emergency (or even someone coming with some refreshments!) it can be difficult to explain exactly where to find him. This can cause frustration or even dangerous delays.

By giving a what3words location, people can see EXACTLY where he is working.

 

marbury lady sculpture by simon o'rourke and the what3words location cook.breath.gangs. the sculpture will be part of Simon O'Rourke's what3words chainsaw carving trail

The Marbury Lady sculpture and her exact location using the what3words app

 

Creating a What3Words Chainsaw Carving Trail

Now you know about the app and all its benefits, you’ve probably guessed where we’re going with the what3words chainsaw carving trail!

People often ask where they can see Simon’s sculptures. Sometimes this is easy to explain, as in most residential addresses. Sometimes it’s much harder as they are in a large area, such as the Giant Hand of Vyrnwy at the Vyrnwy Estate. Or perhaps they are visible from a long road like the Dragon of Bethesda on the A5.

Having been prompted by the contact from what3words, we’ve realised it would be really good to extend Simon’s use of what3words, and to share locations of public sculptures.

 

picture of the giant hand of vyrnwy sculpture labelled with its what3words chainsaw carving trail location: incline.lingering.pose

The Giant Hand of Vyrnwy will be much easier to find using this geocode!

 

How Can I do the What3Words Chainsaw Carving Trail?

At the moment the what3words chainsaw carving trail is in progress. But in the next week or so we will have a link set up which gives the locations of some of Simon’s most-requested sculptures. In time we will add to it, so it’s more comprehensive. In future, people will be able to easily see multiple sculptures within a reasonable distance of each other to visit. Or even plan a national road trip! It’s entirely up to you! The map will be visible in the browser or the app.

Until then, look out on social media for both Simon and what3words and we’ll be releasing some of the locations.

It’s exciting to see technology being used collaboratively to make it easier for people to experience Simon’s pieces!

 

photo of O'Rourke's dragon of bethesda sculpture labelled with its what3words chainsaw carving trail code: rumble.wink.meanders

Now drivers can see exactly where the dragon is coming up on the A5 and hopefully there’ll be fewer sudden stoppages!

Final Thoughts on the What3Words Chainsaw Carving Trail

It’s great not just to be using this app for health and safety, but also to allow easier access to art. And to be raising awareness of the app! It has huge potential, and has already saved lives, which is awesome! Thank you to Alice at what3words for the email this week that prompted the trail!

 

photo of simon o'rourke's wwii soldier in workington park. it is labelled with its what3words chainsawcarving trail location: nail.pine.dime

Simon’s WWII soldier is easy to locate in Workington using what3words.

 

If you would like to contact Simon, please use the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact.