Wycombe Bench

 Wycombe Abbey Bench. Real fun project. Wycombe Abbey had a huge dead Cedar they had to take down. A very nice man called Glynn whose baby this whole project was contacted me, in early 2012, with regards to carving the giant Cedar butt, they had craned into place, high upon a bank over looking a really nice lake. They were starting a new nature trail, and the tree/bench was to become a kind of starting focal point to this trail. My brief was British wildlife. And after studying the trunk I was to work with, I came up with a design, pretty much cramming in as much British wildlife that I could think of and that I thought would work in sculptural form. I find it funny looking back upon the original design for this, as the finished thing was almost a mirror image of what i'd hoped to achieve. There were sections of the crown left, leaving interesting parts to work with. The deer leaping was the start of one branch, the fox another and the owl yet another. The whole thing incorporated: deer, muntjac, barn owl, fox, fox cubs, dove, ducks, otter, badger, rabbit, swan, a mouse and there was a squirrel or 2, but removed at least 1 of these. I wanted to remove the dove and replace it with several smaller and better ones, placed upon brass rods, but by the time I'd got round to the point of removing him, people had grown attached to him. And I was overruled. 

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to work quite as quickly as this project went, ever again. For me, it went incredibly fast and straight forward, I remember the fox coming to life in a matter of hours. My speed was not quick enough to save me getting heckled from the bin men who came weekly, and were amazed to see me still working the big log. The tree surgeons gave me a bit of abuse too. The whole bench took 23 days, admittedly, many long ones. The bench is 7.5m long. I added the wings of the owl, and the horns of the deer, but otherwise, it's one solid lump.

The lake, that the bench sits by, is full of life. And a constant source of amusement. I was on site working for about 5 weeks, during which time I got to see the swan, who had lost her cob (Man), hatch the clutch of eggs she had been diligently warming for the 1st week or 2 of my time there. This funny swan would come and visit, waddling across a small road and up my bank. Checking up on my carving. I remember being so made up, when she brought her 3 signets all the way up, letting them know that I was "good people" and was fine to go hang out with, chainsaw and all!!? The funniest thing that lake held, were the baby moorhen!! They flitted about trying their best to stay alive, whilst looking like some scrawny dinosaur. The poor little things were preyed on from all angles, pike, heron and foxes to name but a few. Amazing bold and brave parenting on display everyday as they'd fight off would be predators. So I had lots fun doing this job throughout May and the beginning of June 2012. I would reference my funny swan, to see how and where her eye should sit in relation to beak etc. Photograph her flank, to see how the feathers sit. It was brilliant.

All the school staff were great fun, and I look forward to getting back there one day.