Stunning sculpture gives new life to tree in Keymer

A beautiful carved tree trunk is amazing residents and passers-by in Lodge Lane, Keymer.

Thursday, 27th May 2021, 12:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 27th May 2021, 2:14 pm

John Troake, who is retired and lives with his wife Jacqueline, said he commissioned Sussex Chainsaw to create the sculpture for his home and the community.

He said the original copper beech tree was more than 100 years old but was condemned after getting a bacterial infection.

“About two years ago it started shedding small chunks of bark,” said John, 65, who consulted the council and a tree surgeon who gave him the bad news.

The green man in the tree carving in Lodge Lane, Keymer. Picture: Steve Robards, SR2105185

“I wanted to try and save the tree because it really was a spectacular 75-80 foot copper beech tree,” he said, adding that he hoped the tree surgeon would have a ‘silver bullet’ solution.

Unfortunately, John said he realised he had to take it down for safety reasons.

However, he negotiated with the company carrying out this work to leave about 15-20 foot of the stump so he could do something with it later.

“It was such a beautiful tree and what we wanted to do was leave something to remember it by and something for us and the community to enjoy.”
John said he had seen some of the work of Sussex Chainsaw and decided that Alasdair Craig was the person to transform the stump.

The owl on top of the tree sculpture. Picture: Steve Robards, SR2105185

“I looked at some of his work around Wivelsfield and he seemed to be such a natural artist for this type of project,” he said.

And John said he did not want just a straightforward totem pole.

“The final piece is a four to five foot owl at the top, with a small gap that leads to a large face of a green man where his beard and eyebrows are all made up of leaves,” he said.

The green man on its own is about five or six foot high, said John, and the design wraps around the stump and faces the road so everyone can see it.

Alasdair Craig of Sussex Chainsaw, with the house owner John Troake and his grandson Dylan next to the nearly completed sculpture. Picture: Steve Robards SR2105185

“It would have been pretty selfish to stand it facing the house,” he said, adding that people have already told him how much they like the piece.

“I wanted a green man because I think that’s a very natural thing to do with wood,” he said.

This traditional figure can be seen in many places around Mid Sussex and the woodland theme is in keeping with the district, John added.

Alasdair said he was pleased with the final result too.

Alasdair Craig, owner and sculptor at Sussex Chainsaw, with his latest, nearly completed work in Lodge Lane, Keymer. Picture Steve Robards SR2105185

“It’s nice because lots of people will see it and it feels like a community piece as much as it is a piece for an individual,” he said.

Sussex Chainsaw creates bespoke, hand made, chainsaw carving in Sussex and further afield.

Alasdair Craig began chainsaw carving in 2011, having previously trained and worked as a stone setter and goldsmith.

Alasdair’s work is not available on eBay. Visit sussexchainsaw.com to find out more and see examples of his work.

Details from the base of the finished sculpture. Picture: John Troake