titan treecycle

close up of the palm of simon o'rourke's wooden A Hand Between Sky and Earth sculpture in Allai

A Hand Between Sky and Earth Sculpture

A Hand Between Sky and Earth Sculpture 450 600 Simon O'Rourke

Today is Earth Day 2022 so I’m going to share one of my most recent sculptures with an environmental message: A Hand Between Sky and Earth.

 

Simon O'Rourke standing next to a tree that he will carve into the sculpture A Hand Between Sky and Earth The tree is around five times his height and has a white building in the background to the left and a few shorter trees to the right.

Simon with the tree that would become A Hand Between Sky and Earth sculpture

 

Earth Day 2022

Before I jump into the story of the A Hand Between Sky and Earth sculpture, what is Earth Day? And why is it relevant?

Earth Day is an annual event on April 22 to demonstrate support for environmental protection. It includes a wide range of events coordinated globally by EarthDay.org, and focuses on raising awareness and mobilising people to do their part in caring for the environment.

Care for the environment is something close to my heart. That’s why it’s always great to receive a commission for a project like A Hand Between Sky and Earth or The Giant Hand of Vyrnwy where I can use art to convey a message about caring for our planet.

 

Initial sketch for A Hand Between Sky and Earth. The photo of the tree is faded and a hand sketched sculpture of a hand is overlaid so clients could see what it would look like.

One of the initial sketches for A Hand Between Sky and Earth

 

A Hand Between Sky and Earth Sculpture: How It Began

Back in November, I had an enquiry about a sculpture on Sardinia. A tree in the village of Allai had become dangerous and needed to be cut down. The council didn’t want to cut it down completely and hoped I could transform it into a work of art.

They shared how they believe trees represent a natural resource of great significance. They’d researched their options and believed this was a good way to “save” the tree at the same time as embellishing and enhancing it. In the words of the client:

We love nature, we have lots of respect for our vegetation and probably your same love can help us to preserve our trees but in a different amazing way.

As well as preserving the tree, the sculpture was to serve the dual purpose of (hopefully!) becoming a tourist attraction.
New life for the tree, and increased benefit for the village!
Definitely a meaningful commission!

 

simon o'rourke stands in a cherry picker and uses a chainsaw to carve a sculpture into an standing tree trunk. in the background there is a white building.

Working on A Hand Between Sky and Earth sculpture in Allai

 

The Message Behind A Hand Between Sky and Earth Scultpure

The sculpture I created needed to be something that would capture the imagination and draw people to see it, but also needed to reflect the preservation aspect of the commission. Although the initial enquiry asked about wildlife sculptures, after some conversation, we settled on an outstretched hand. Something reaching between the material to the spiritual world that, like the Giant Hand of Vyrnwy, also represented the struggle of the tree to reach the sky.

To me, the hand is fitting as hands are a way to connect with the earth. They’re how we touch rocks, the earth and the trees. With our hands, we work the earth to grow food or build.

My sculpture is a symbol of this tactile connection with the world. It’s also a reminder that we use our hands to steward it, and the sculpture invites us to take care of it.

The hand position can be seen as an extension to gently touch or make a statement. The slightly straightened finger is meant to suggest a gentle command or complaint. ”

 

simon o'rourke's A Hand Between Sky and Earth Sculpture

Responses To A Hand Between Sky and Earth Sculpture

It’s only been a couple of weeks since finishing the commission, and the sculpture is already serving its purpose.

The municipal council are delighted with the finished sculpture. They describe it as “A symbolic work for a community, a careful warning to safeguard a territory that does not want to give up [but rather] fights for a prosperous and luxuriant future, with trust, determination and an obstinate love for the surrounding nature“.

 

close up of the palm of simon o'rourke's wooden A Hand Between Sky and Earth sculpture in Allai

 

One local lady who saw the sculpture being created was inspired to write a poem where she describes it as

A hand reaching out to the sky
like a cry for help to God
to save the planet and its ruin
that gradually falls into oblivion.”
Pina Frongia
the back of the hand on simon o'rourkes A Hand Between Sky and Earth sculpture. the only background is a grey-ish sky. lots of wood grain is visible in the hand

Visiting A Hand Between Sky and Earth Sculpture

Others on social media have been asking how they can go and see the sculpture, fulfilling its second role of helping to bring tourists to the area and strengthen the economy. It’s great both purposes are being fulfilled so soon!
If you are one of the people who would like to visit, it’s SO easy to find using What3words!
Either open the app and search for ///hangdog.candlestick.precocious or just click here.
And after experiencing the wonderful food, weather, scenery and hospitality in Allai (thanks to our new friends we met there!), Liz and I definitely recommend a holiday on Sardinia!
simon o'rourke and a female stand beneath the sculpture A Hand Between Sky and Earth, a giant hand carved into a standing tree trunk about 20ft tall.

With one of our hosts in Allai

 

Other Environmental Considerations

Of course, it isn’t enough to just create art that challenges people to care for the earth, helpful as art can be in communicating an important message. I’m also aware of the potential environmental cost of chainsaw carving and minimise impact where I can.

What does that look like?

First, I never carve or cut down a healthy tree for sculpture. Rather, use trees that have died or need to be felled due to disease, damage, or danger to people/places and give life back to them as art.

 

screenshot of simon o'rourke's instagram account showing he is a member of titan treecycle initiative

Members of Treecycle display ‘Titan Treecycle Member’ on their social media accounts.

 

I’m also part of Titan Treecycle. This is an initiative that encourages chainsaw artists to plant trees to replace the ones they use. Although the timber I use has never come from healthy trees, I’m aware that chainsaw carving impacts the environment in other ways. For example, travel for commissions or events, emissions from our tools. So I joined the initiative to offset my carbon footprint, not just replace the wood I use.

If you’re looking for a chainsaw artist for a commission, Titan Chainsaw Carving on Instagram is a great place to find artists, and then check that they display  “Treecycle Member” in their profile.

 

a white tiled building in the background. in front is the hand between sky and earth sculpture by simon o'rourke; a giant hand carved into the top of a tree trunk

 

Final Thoughts

It’s obviously exciting as an artist to be able to create art that challenges people to think about the environment. It’s great to post about it on Earth Day too. My hope though is that our thoughts and actions go far beyond this one day, that care for the earth becomes second nature to us all, and that we can all gradually make slow, sustainable changes that help preserve our incredible planet.

What changes have you been working on?

As always, if you are interested in a sculpture for your home, business, or community, fill out the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact.

If you’re interested in watching the creation of A Hand Between Sky and Earth, check out the video below too!

 

sample screenshot of a tree-nation forest page, showing the team logo and stats on trees planted and CO2 offset

Titan Treecycle Initiative

Titan Treecycle Initiative 900 600 Simon O'Rourke

At the start of November, Simon announced he’d joined ‘Team Titan’, and become part of the Titan Treecycle initiative, but we have never explained what that means! We thought we’d use this week’s blog to explain a little more about the project, and why it’s such an important initiative…

a facebook screenshot from Simon O'Rourke's facebook page announcing he is part of the titan treecycle initiative. the post is accomanpied by a photo of a forest.

Simon’s initial Treecycle announcement

About Titan Chainsaw Carving

Before we talk about the Titan Treecycle initiative, let’s back up a few steps and start with Titan!

Titan Chainsaw carving is a recently opened specialist chainsaw carving tools supply store, started by chainsaw carver Matt Crabb. He’s been a professional chainsaw carver for 15 years, so he certainly knows what carvers of all skill levels need! And although it has begun as a chainsaw carving supplies store, Matt hopes it will be much more.

He wants to support, encourage, inspire, and help new carvers – people with an interest to try carving. He also wants Titan to be a place where beginners come alongside pros, somewhere knowledge and inspiration can be shared.
chainsaw carver (founder of titan treecycle initiative) stands to the left of a large tree trunk carved into a sculptures of four owls

Matt Crabb is the founder of Titan Treecycle initiative
Photo taken from his Facebook page.

Team Titan!

To help form that community, Matt has formed a team of world-class chainsaw carvers as ambassadors of the brand. As a team, they will also work collaboratively on large-scale carving projects. Simon is honoured to be one of the team, along with Matt, James Elliott, Mike Jones, Michael Tamoszus, Ryan Villiers, Res Hofmann, Simon Archer, and Hikaru Kodama.
Exciting as this is, Matt also has a bigger out-reaching vision, and that’s where the Titan Treecycle Initiative comes in…
Water Dragon by Keiji Kidokoro and Simon O'Rourke Huskycup 2019 one of the top chainsaw carving events

Water Dragon by Simon and Keiji Kidokoro at Huskycup 2019 – a taste of the quality and artistry expected from the Titan collaboration

The Vision Behind Titan Treecycle

Matt is highly aware of the situation with climate change and the desperate need for big change in the world (an awareness Simon shares). As a result, one of his goals is to ensure Titan runs as completely carbon negative. What a fantastic goal! This lead him to an organisation called Tree-Nation, and the Titan Treecyle initiative came from that contact.
Tree-Nation has a goal of reforesting the world. They want to use technology to make tree planting easy and provide support, advice and solutions to citizens and companies to help them transition towards a sustainable future.
five adults hold gardening equipment and tree saplings in pots. they are all wearing white t shirts bearing the tree-nation logo

Some of the Tree-Nation team
Photo taken from the Tree Nation website

The Initiative Unfolds…

Matt decided to use Titan and the team’s ever-growing online presence in the chainsaw carving community, to promote an initiative for every chainsaw carver to replant more trees each year than they use. So he started Titan Treecycle.
Titan Treecycle is a ‘Forest’ or project, within Tree-Nation. Chainsaw Carvers can donate money towards the forest, and Tree-Nation uses that money to plant trees in one of their reforestation projects. If every chainsaw carver in the world joined this action, it would make a monumental change to our carbon footprint.

In Matt’s words:

It should become the norm. We [chainsaw carvers] use up trees to carve luxury items with carbon-emitting tools. Lots of carvers travel around and fly across the world to compete etc. It would be so so easy and at very little cost per individual to offset all of this. If we as a trade could set about this positive change, then perhaps our example can be used to show other trades and industries the way forward.

Looking at the Titan Treecycle Forest page, so far (December 2021) the group have planted 321 trees and offset 142t of carbon dioxide. A great start in only a couple of months!
sample screenshot of a tree-nation forest page, showing the team logo and stats on trees planted and CO2 offset

The forest page provides updates and accountability for members and supporters

Simon and the Titan Treecycle Initiative

It’s fairly well known that Simon only uses trees that are dead, diseased or dangerous for his sculptures, and never cuts trees down specifically to carve. So why join Treecycle?
In his words:
Even though all the wood I currently use has been cut for a valid reason, I feel this is an excellent way to encourage the carving world to go the extra mile in looking after the planet we’re so blessed to live on.

And there’s more…

 

The Giant Hand of Vyrnwy stands in the Lake Vyrnwy estate. The sculpture is one of Simon’s most famous examples of transforming a storm-damaged tree

Team Titan Collaboration

Remember we mentioned collaborative projects? The Titan team are planning to meet up in England in April this year to collaborate on (matt’s words!) “the biggest and most spectacular chainsaw carving project on earth!”

At this stage we can’t say anything more, but it promises to be epic!

There haven’t been many occasions before this where a large collective of elite professional artists have collaborated together in such a big way. As Matt says, “It’s going to be a very special project and a huge step forward for the wonderful art of chainsaw carving“.

Simon is excited about the collaboration, and of course, we’ll be sharing about it here!
screen shot of the Titan Chainsaw Carving facebook page. Titan are the founders of the titan treecycle initiative discussed in this blog

More Information and Contacts

Titan Chainsaw Carving supplies are on Facebook and Instagram, and a webpage (www.titanchainsawcarving.com) is coming soon.

You can follow the progress of the Treecycle team on their Forest page, and find out more about the work of Tree-Nation at www.tree-nation.com

Finally, contact Simon using the form at www.treecarving.co.uk/contact/.