John Adamson- Tree Sculptor

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The Ravensthorpe Onion Man

 

Willow    -  Height 24 inches

The Onion Man was made for and in Ravensthorpe Junior School as part of the Big Arts Week of 2002, an initiative to get artists into schools to spread the artist's enthusiasm for their work. The school had asked for a sculptor as their children probably had never seen a sculptor. I had volunteered for the Big ArtsWeek for the sheer fun of it.

The school had no definite plans but we agreed that I would carve something with a chainsaw because it can be made to look and sound exciting. At the time, I was working on two willow trees in the Centenary Garden, Padiham, Burnley, and one off cut seemed just right for the project. It looked a bit like an onion with space for a face to be carved on a dead branch that had been partly incorporated into the living tree by the bark and new wood growing over the dead wood.

All the children came out to see me class by class. I introduced them to my petrol driven chain saw and hand tools, and explained that all tools could be a dangerous. They were shown the chain saw safety equipment I wear for my protection.

The children were given bits of chain sawn and carved wood to compare the difference in the surface texture. They noticed that the wood felt damp, we were able to link into some elementary biology they had been learning. They had been experimenting with celery and seen how it took up a dye from the water it was standing in. I explained that the wood had only recently been cut from a living tree and still contained sap, and that trees take on average one year per inch of thickness to dry out.

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