“Each of us is carving a stone, erecting a column, or cutting a piece of stained glass in the construction of something much bigger than ourselves.” —Adrienne Clarkson
With his huge sculpture of a hand emerging from a tree stump, the artist Simon O’Rourke from Rhosddu, Wrexham, was commissioned to carve the remains of the tallest tree in the United Kingdom—a Scots Oak, into a wonder that gives new significance to a “palm tree”.
He titled it as “Vyrnwy’s Giant Hand” and this masterpiece measures 50 feet in height. Greatly, the artist modeled this giant hand on his own within 6 days!
The damage to the tree was spotted and the Forestry Commission was afraid that it could pose some risks to the visitors since the tree was already leaning to one side. They have also found two substantial cracks on opposite sides of the main stem extending from the buttress roots to a height of 3.5 meters.
In order to preserve the tree that had been damage by the storm, now, it has been beautifully transformed into something worth of spectacle. The transformation has a folkloric quality, between rough and smooth, as if a giant is attempting to make its way to Earth.
“I found out through a friend that the tallest tree in Wales was damaged by a storm and is due to be taken down. The ones who were in charge of the site were going to commission an artist to carve the tree,” O’Rourke explained. He searched the internet for the right people to talk to, and upon finding them, he fortunately got the go signal and permission to submit his very own design.
“I began researching the area and found the area of woodland that contained the tree that was known as the Giants of Vyrnwy. This got me thinking and I decided on a giant hand, symbolizing the giants, and the tree’s last attempt to reach for the sky!” O’Rourke said. Unexpectedly, his designs were chosen and he immediately got to work planning.
“Scaffold was needed to make it safe to work on, and the terrain was such a difficult one that it took two days to erect the scaffold. Six days of intense work followed using chainsaws and grinders. I needed to add two pieces for the thumb and little finger, as the tree wasn’t wide enough to form the whole hand. After completion, the sculpture was coated in Tung Oil, a natural plant based oil safe for proximity to waterways,” he said.
The client of the said masterpiece was greatly pleased of the finished project. He said that the piece can last 40 years if treated properly. O’Rourke makes other beautiful sculptures that he carves with a chainsaw out of wood. His works are influenced by a variety of styles that ranges from classical art to history and then to modern culture.
This storm-damaged tree that had been transformed into a 50-feet hand is worth $16,000. Indeed, storms can be destructive and very disappointing but creativity can make it something like a blessing—like what this talented artist named O’Rourke did. It teaches us that things can be transformed into something beautiful and we just only need to have the desire to make something out of an ugly situation.
Willie Nelson once said, “Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.” Sometimes storms comes with the opportunity—opportunity for something great. “Vyrnwy’s Giant Hand” is one great proof of it.