Prowling Jaguar

This is the best lump of wood I've ever got hold of, and I'm guessing at its age but it's possibly even old enough to have been recorded in the Domesday book in 1086. It was a very old Yew that I felled while working as a tree ...

Quick info about this sculpture

The contrasting colours between the reddish heartwood and blonde sapwood, as well as the wood's natural defects, bring a rich variety to the sculpture's overall form. There's a fold of bark running through the jaguars face, giving it the appearance of a battle hardened scar.


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This is the best lump of wood I've ever got hold of. An English Yew that was possibly recorded in the doomsday book. I need to research and confirm this somewhat tenuous fact. It was a very old tree, but I can't recollect exactly what its owner's told me about it. I felled the tree whilst working as a tree surgeon 4 or 5 years ago, maybe 2005? It was easily the worst thing I did during my time as a tree surgeon. I had very mixed feeling throughout the process. I knew that I was going to be allowed some of the resultant timber, and it was of such a size that, that was an exciting prospect. Though to fell such an aged tree, felt awful. However the owners had sought and garnered the required permission to fell the tree. The tree was somewhat dilapidated due to its age. They lived in Aston north Oxfordshire, with the tree extremely close to their 600year old house. Though their house was old, the tree was older. People have to come first sometimes, and the tree consumed the back garden. It had dropped various limbs, and with their young children in mind they felt it had to go. So, seeing as it was going to go, I got all excited about what I was going to be able to make from it.

For a while I've been fairly hung up on carving big cats. Not necessarily an obvious choice for something to make out of an ancient lump of English yew. I'm very happy with the result. I tried to maximize the wood available to me and so made something as big as the block that I started with. As you can see in the pictures, the cat is full of holes. This is because Yew trees will grow in ribs, form small buttresses, even conjoining separate branches back and forth within the tree. It's an extremely slow growing hard wood. And to have a block of this size was very rare indeed. On one side of the cat, there is a stone that I've carved. This was obviously enveloped by the tree in its youth. That can happen with any number of foreign objects. You might have noticed trees enveloping fences that they grow next to?

Anyway the finished cat is packed with curious features that are nothing to do with me and all about the beauty of this raw material. Holes, included bark fissures, the stone, variations between heart and sapwood, cracks, discolouration and varying density of grain. The integral strength of Yew is such that I was able to leave very thin sections, (like on the cats leading leg) without too much worry of breakage. Lot's of people seem to like the included bark that runs through his face, which looks like a scar running through his eye. There's a similar occurrence in his mouth.

He's gone to a good home.