Tallest Tree Transformed into Chainsaw Art – Simon O’Rourke

March 04, 2022 |
Wood Sculpture by Simon ORourke of The Giant of Vyrnwy

When the tallest tree in Wales was damaged in a storm, Simon O’Rourke, chainsaw carving extraordinaire, knew just what to do. Simon had been carving sculptures with his chainsaw for years. He had a design in his hand and a mind to be the one who received the commissioned for carving this tremendous tree into his latest chainsaw art sculpture.

Simon ORourke at work carving with chainsaw to create wood sculpture Phoenix Rising
image credit: Simon O’Rourke, Phoenix Rising

What is chainsaw art?

Chainsaw art is a modern touch on the traditional art of wood carving, and it has been rapidly growing in popularity since around the 1950s. Some chainsaw art is more performance based, focusing on creating wood sculptures in front of a live audience. These pieces are usually executed quickly with expert precision over a smaller window of time. However, there are many modern woodcarvers who make use of the chainsaw as a tool to produce detailed and intricate pieces, as you will see below with Simon O’Rourke’s work.

THE TREE

It was famously known as the largest tree in Wales. The Douglas Fir stretched 209ft and had been towering over the Lake Vyrnwy estate for 124 years. The tree, which had been damaged in a storm, has scheduled to be felled. The organization in charge of the site, Natural Resource Wales, was going to commission an artist to carve the 50ft “stump” left behind. Simon knew this tree would be the perfect canvas for his chainsaw art. “I was really excited at the prospect of carving this giant and creating a memorial for such a well-known landmark,” Simon explained. He set to researching the area and the surrounding woodlands, finding inspiration in their name: Giants of Vyrnwy.



Wood Sculpture by Simon ORourke of The Giant of Vyrnwy
image credit: Simon O’Rourke, The Giant Hand of Vyrnwy took 6 days to carve.

The Giant Hand of Vyrnwy

This 50ft sculpture may look like your typical tree at ground level, but as you follow the tree upward, you will notice the bark slowly start to melt away, revealing the enormous, detailed work of art. “I wanted to show the hand stretching and straining; fighting to reach its full height,” Simon O’Rourke explains, “That’s why I highlighted veins and creases, and why there is visible tension and power in the hand. It reflects a battle against not only the elements but also the damage humans have done.” For 124 years, this Douglas Fir stretched forever toward the sky, and now, through through O’Rourke’s artistic vision, the sculpture will continue to reach upward so for many, many years to come. Matter of fact, it just celebrated its 10th birthday in 2021.

Wood Sculpture by Simon ORourke of Dragon of Bethesda
image credit: Simon O’Rourke, Dragon of Bethesda

Simon O’Rourke, The Artist

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Simon O’Rourke is known for his amazingly detailed wooden sculptures. He has participated in chainsaw carving competitions across the world, and his portfolio is full of whimsy, fantasy, and inspiration. One of his most famous–and largest–sculptures remains The Giant Hand of Vyrnwy, but that is certainly not his only awe-inspiring piece.



Wood Sculpture by Simon ORourke of Fairy in Swing
image credit: Simon O’Rourke, fairy in swing

From fairies to dragons, angels to… Deadpool… Simon’s body of work has quite the range. While the subject matter may be as different as night and day, each sculpture has two things in common: an extraordinary level of detail and a passion for art that shines through each and every piece.


Originally posted on March 04, 2022.

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