Tree Carving

Heroes at Highclere

Heroes at Highclere 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

We’re sure you can’t have missed that this week was the anniversary of 9/11. Certainly my social media feeds were full of people paying tribute to all the servicemen and law enforcement (human and canine!) who had willingly sacrificed their wellbeing, and even lives, to try and save others.
Whilst it is always sad to remember, it is also a beautiful thing to pay respect and honour, and here at Simon O’Rourke Tree Carving, we were honoured to pay tribute ourselves last weekend to another group of servicemen: The Heroes at Highclere.

Centenary Celebrations

For readers outside the UK who may not have had the same media exposure, September 1918 marked the beginning of the end of the First World War. This would culminate in the Armistice two months later. In this centenary year, as a country we are taking time to honour the men and women who have selflessly served our nation. This fantastic event was one of many  that will happen over this year, and we are glad to have paid a part.

The Downton Connection

The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle (many of you will recognise it as ‘Downton Abbey’), chose to open their grounds for “Heroes at Highclere”: a charity weekend, honouring  those who have served and fundraising for charities related to our armed forces.  The reason we were there was because part of the weekend was the unveiling of a sculpture Simon created….

Visiting Highclere

It was an incredible experience to be there in person at Highclere during the event. As well as getting to unveil the sculpture, we were also able to take time to enjoy the exhibitions, planes, food, good weather and wonderful atmosphere. We also met and talked with the families of the brave soldiers who lost their lives when their planes came down on and around the Highclere estate during World War 2. It is always a privilege to receive a commission with this level of meaning. Even more so this time because it is housed in such a beautiful, prominent, and iconic setting as the Highclere Estate!!

Memorial Benches

As well as the airman sculpture, Daniel, our carpenter and workshop manager, did a beautiful job of creating 3 benches based on the tail plane of a P38 aircraft; one of the types of aircraft that crash landed on the Highclere estate during World War two.

He thoughtfully designed the benches in a way that he could incorporate some pieces of shrapnel from the plane. So they were protected, he was going to encase them in clear acrylic tubing, which would be the legs. Sadly there wasn’t any suitable shrapnel from this plane available at the time, so he used small pieces of shrapnel from the B17 aircraft instead.

This actually ended up being the perfect combination. Partly because meant it included more of the planes that had crashed on the estate. In turn, this meant more of the families felt represented in the tribute. On the day of the unveiling we actually met the family of the pilot of the B17 who had sadly died in the crash. They were visibly moved seeing their family’s history displayed in this way. It was humbling to meet them and we felt honoured that they loved the benches.

 

A Wonderful Weekend

As well as the joy of seeing the completed pieces in their new home, and the fun of being able to take part in the heroes weekend, participating in this way also leaves us humbled and thankful for the men, women and animals in our armed forces and law enforcement. We hope that others who visit the castle and see our Airman and benches, will not only enjoy the artistry, but also take a moment to pause and reflect on their significance…

 

You can see the airman on the lawns overlooking ‘Heaven’s Gate’ at Highclere Castle for the foreseeable future. (Admission charges apply, please see the Highclere website for details)

 

Vintage Cricketer…..

Vintage Cricketer….. 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

This Vintage Cricketer was a private commission for Hopkins Homes. They installed him in their latest housing development.

 

It was a really fun project to work on and I really enjoyed making him! Glad to say the customer was really really happy too!

 

 

Vanquis Viking Advert

Vanquis Viking Advert 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

Earlier this year we were asked to create a carving of a Game of Thrones style character emerging from a log. We later found out it was for the Vanquis Viking Advert. Maybe some of you have seen it?
I was so busy I enlisted the help of my apprentice, Paul from Ossum Tree Carving, to help me. Thankfully he did a great job! You can read more about that process in our Vanquis Viking Advert case study.

Having delivered it to the back of beyond (somewhere in Betws Y Coed), the following day this advert was filmed!

 

 

Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy Sculpture

Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy Sculpture 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

This Rolls Royce Spirit of Ecstasy sculpture was Simon’s most challenging piece to date yet. The project was for a private garden in Oxted, London. She took 6 days from start to finish – quite the undertaking! Needless to say, the client is a Rolls Royce enthusiast!

Simon found the project incredibly technically difficult. However, he was very happy with the finished sculpture . It was well worth the difficulties!

You can find out more about the process in our blog about recreating this icon.

 

 

FForest Fawr trail installed!

FForest Fawr trail installed! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

Today saw the wild beasts of Cardiff finally installed into their final resting place in Fforest Fawr! It came after many months of hard work and planning by all involved, so it felt like quite an achievement. The Fforest Fawr trail was focused around animals that populated the forest in the past.

Here’s a few pictures of the animals we made for the trail, including Wolf, Lynx, Red Deer, and Pine Marten.

 

Exciting start to 2018!

Exciting start to 2018! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

A very happy new year to you all! We hope that your January so far has been really brilliant and not blue at all. At Tree Carving we’ve definitely had an exciting start to 2018.

It’s been crazy cool, with lots of commissions, meetings, networking and travel. The most exciting thing though was having the Stihl GB team come to film Simon with their fab marketing team and film crew, HROC!

Here’s a couple of snaps from the day a couple of weeks ago. There will be some fantastic video footage being released in early March too, so watch this space!

And whatever you are doing, we hope it’s been an exciting start to 2018 for you too!

Looking back…

Looking back… 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

It’s been 13 years since the moment I decided to sculpt for a living, and here’s the sculpture that triggered it! Looking back, I’m so glad I made that choice.

“Sleeping Girl”, was my very first competition entry, at the inaugural English Open Chainsaw Competition.

It placed 3rd, and gave me the confidence boost to create a business from what I had begun to love as a pastime.

It’s been a rollercoaster of an adventure and I’m blessed to be able to make a living from doing something that I love! Looking back, it may not always have been easy, but I would make the same choice over again every time.

Ruby the Owl and her Sculpture Trail!

Ruby the Owl and her Sculpture Trail! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

This week we installed an entire sculpture trail!!

This isn’t just any sculpture trail, it follows a story as you move from one sculpture to another.

I was commissioned by the Friends Of Meadow Park to create a sculpture trail, funded by Tesco Bags Funding!

I decided to write a unique children’s story and illustrate it with carvings. The story is in poem form and follows the story of Ruby the owl, looking for the perfect home!

It went down very well and plans are afoot to produce a children’s book to accompany the trail.

Ruby Meets a Squirrel in the meadow park woodland sculpture trails by simon o'rourke

 

November Update: It’s going with a bang!!!

November Update: It’s going with a bang!!! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

It’s time for our November update, And, well, what a month so far! And we are only 2 weeks in! November certainly got going with a bang!!!

The Senedd Project

The month started with Simon and Dan finishing off the Oak Plinth. This was a team project, which Dan made and Simon engraved for the Senedd in Cardiff…

It’s been in the background for a while, but we couldn’t say anything. Now that it’s actually there and installed we can actually talk about it publicly!

Basically, we received a commission to make a wooden plinth. But not just any plinth! This was commissioned for a beautiful chair that was gifted to the Senedd. The whole thing was generously donated by some students in Flanders, Belgium, to celebrate the life of Hedd Wyn, a Welsh-language poet. He was posthumously awarded the bard’s chair at the 1917 National Eisteddfod, so it was fitting to make a chair from Oak found at the site where he fell 100 years ago.

The plinth was made from some Oak sleepers, found in the grounds of Hedd Wyn’s historical family home in Trawsfynydd, North West Wales. It was an honour to be approached by the National Trust for this project.

Needless to say, all went well and Dan and Simon did a wonderful job.

Here is a picture of Dan enjoying the unveiling of the chair and plinth at the Senydd last week.

Meadow Park Sculpture Trail

The other very exciting thing for November so far has been the wonderful Story trail that Simon has written and created for a community group in Ellesmere Port.

The story for the trail was written by Simon a couple of months ago, and once approved by the group, made into a stunning wooden trail that you can follow around the woodland.

The grand unveiling for the trail is on Saturday 25th November in the afternoon and people are very welcome to attend and to even lend a hand with tree planting if they so wish!

Please contact Andy, the group co-ordinator on the Facebook page below for more details.

https://www.facebook.com/meadow.park.942

That’s all for now, but details of where you can see Simon carving over the next few weeks up until Christmas are available here:

https://www.treecarving.co.uk/public-carving-dates-november-and-december-2017/

Have a fab few weeks everybody and we’ll be back soon with some Ho Ho Ho! 🙂

ONLY 40 SLEEPS TO GO!!! So get those Christmas orders in quick! 🙂

Simon, Liz, Dan and team at Simon O’Rourke Ltd.

A crazy Summer!

A crazy Summer! 150 150 Simon O'Rourke

Well after the craziness of RHS Tatton, you would have thought that we might have put our feet up a little bit and had a rest…… Nothing could be farther from the truth! After the success of Tatton, we then embarked on the ‘Fab Four’ project and the ‘Ark’ exhibition in Liverpool and Chester respectively. Needless to say that the Beatles sculptures went down very well indeed in their home city, and much fun was had at Chester Cathedral making junk and nature sculptures with the families who signed up to the free workshops that were put on as part of the ‘Ark’ sculpture exhibition which is actually still on until October 10th.

Ark Exhibition

Following all of that is now the Landscape 2017 expo in London, www.landscapeshow.co.uk/, and then the Llangollen food festival, www.llangollenfoodfestival.com/, as well as lots and lots of exciting and varied projects in between times! Phew! 🙂

The Beatles Sculptures are still currently up for auction… we believe! There was a high bid of £15,000 put in a week or so ago and we are just waiting to hear if this is the final bid or whether someone else may still pip this current bidder to the post! All monies from the sale of the Beatles Sculptures are going to the very worthwhile Variety Club Children’s Charity GB.

Any more bids over £15k to @pierheadvillageliverpool please via their facebook page, thank you!

We’ll be back again soon with more updates from our crazy world!

Liz, Si and Dan 🙂IMG_9494  beatles complete