Triodos Bank UK asked me to carve them an owl to celebrate 25 years of being based in Bristol.
The timbers used are a bit special: the body is carved from Lawson Cypress (also known as Port Orford cedar) and the feet from linden (lime) wood, both of which grew in the Ashton Court estate on the edge of the city. It’s a place very dear to many Bristolians.
The eyes and talons are greenheart, a tough wood which originally formed the top of the nineteenth-century lock gates that led into the city’s harbour. When they were renewed a few years ago, I was given this timber.
The beak came from a garden in the Lockleaze area of the city, where some my relations used to live. The oak perch is reclaimed locally-grown timber too.
This sculpture was carved for the former Lord Mayor of Bristol, Geoff Gollop, and his family in 2009.
A much loved Robinia tree had to be cut down in their garden and they wanted to turn the remaining stump into a sculpture so that they could continue enjoying it. Making this culture involved using a range of tools, from chainsaws to traditional carving gouges and chisels.
After discussing a few ideas with them, they decided that they would like the two life-size birds, with a pattern going up the trunk. To make the woodpecker’s legs stronger, I carved them from two wooden pegs that were firmly fixed in. This meant that the grain direction made them less likely to snap.
I like the idea of the slightly indignant owl being woken up by the busy woodpecker and I think that the owl’s face captures that.