Nature lives on through dead tree

1 February 2017

THE dead trunk of an old oak tree has been transformed into a beautifully crafted piece of wildlife art at Newark’s Sconce and Devon Park

Drawing on a wide range of sources of inspiration for its design, sculptor Peter Leadbeater fired up his chainsaw to create the bench as a lasting feature at the site where the original tree once stood beside the river, in a project organised by the Greenwood Community Forest team.

An owl, squirrel and swan are now among the wildlife that adorns the trunk with space for passers-by to sit and stay a little while.

It took Peter, using varying sized saws, an angle grinder and power file, four days to complete what he describes as one of his ‘more accomplished carvings’.

The Greenwood Community Forest team helped the Friends of Sconce and Devon Park to apply for funding for the project from Newark and Sherwood District Council’s community arts programme. 

Peter said: “This was a really interesting challenge as it required, not only bringing together all the great ideas put forward by the park rangers, the Friends group but also included the ideas developed in a workshop with year 5 pupils from Holy Trinity Catholic Academy.”

Thirty-one schoolchildren, their teacher and two classroom assistants met Peter along with representatives of the Friends, council business manager – parks and amenities Phil Beard and park ranger George Hemstock, who came up with the original idea.

Peter added: “My approach was to collect the most popular suggestions, which were appropriate to the location, and then arrange them in a way that created an interesting, flowing design.

“The design depicts not only wildlife which can be seen around the park but also shows the river and some of the creatures which live there. I felt it important to show both these aspects of the park as it is such a diverse and beautiful place. Overall, I am very pleased with the results and have enjoyed meeting the regular users of the park.”

Councillor Tony Roberts, district council chairman, said: "This is a fine and beautiful example of nature being recycled into something both useful and eye-catching. A wonderful addition to the park."

Councillor Peter Duncan, Chairman of the District Council ’s grants panel, said: "We were delighted to support this innovative and exceptional piece of art now on public display in Sconce and Devon Park. Benches don’t have to be boring!”

Paul Reed, Chair of the Friends group, said: “It has been marvellous to get the children out onto the park to run around and make noise, but also to help design a piece of artwork that will be in place for their generation to enjoy for years to come. We are very grateful to the district council and the Greenwood Team for all their help.”

Year 5 teacher Sean Westerman said: “The children were really impressed by Peter’s amazing work. We visited the fallen oak tree and other areas of the park to try to find inspiration for ideas. In the afternoon we were then left to become designers! The children created mini masterpieces for Peter to look at and take all the ideas to form the bench we now see today. He has done a great job!”

One of the pupils, Eva (aged nine) said: "I really like the swan and the snail is rather cute. We worked together as a team to create a really nice bench."

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