Mention chainsaw and the mind usually wanders to lumberjacks cutting trees with chainsaws for logging and to the horror movie ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre’. The potentially violent and destructive machine that can be used to create art is something that defies logic. I mean, how can such a crude appliance be used to create wooden sculptures of such exquisite beauty.
Well, Simon O’Rourke has shown it can be done and how! This Liverpool-born sculptor based in Wrexham in North Wales, UK, stumbled upon chainsaw wood carving when working as a tree surgeon. This tree carving artist tried his hand at dead tree trunks with a chainsaw and the results impressed him. This was the moment when he realized the amazing potential of a chainsaw in creating large sculptures in the shortest possible time.
O’Rourke, who’s an Illustration graduate, uses the speed and power of a chainsaw and certain other tree carving tools to hew the surface of large tree trunks in the desired shapes and textures. As he rightly declares on his Instagram page, “I love bringing wood to life with chainsaws”. This love is starkly evident in all his chainsaw creations. Viewers remain in awe wondering how something so beautiful can be produced by so rough a machine.
This chainsaw artist basically focuses on a mixture of life studies and fantasy. He provides each work with a narrative and the viewers walk away with the feeling of having witnessed an active scene. For instance, at Liverpool’s Pier Head Village, he transformed two tree trunks into life-size statutes of Sir Ken Dodd, an English comedian, singer, and occasional actor, and Priscilla Maria Veronica White, better known as Cilla Black, an English singer, television presenter, actress, and author. Such was O’Rourke’s mastery over the machine that he created these six-foot wooden sculptures for the garden in just 12 hours.
In 2017, he had raised over £15,000 by auctioning four life-size statues of The Beatles, which he carved in 24 hours. He shares with dailypost.co.uk the difficulties he faces in speed carving, thus, “It’s always difficult when you challenge yourself in that short space of time, especially with just a chainsaw because you’re limited to how much detail you can get.”
It comes as no surprise that big businesses want to own O’Rourke’s works, which has prompted him to produce commissions for both private and corporate clients. He also encourages young artists in wood sculpting through talks and demonstrations.
Simon James O’Rourke