Local Chainsaw Sculptor Simon O’Rourke recently returned from a 5-week international tour, where he competed against some of the top carvers in the world at exclusive European and North American competitions.
The tour began in Germany where, as team Captain, he led the 3-man team to produce a magnificent medieval horse and rider sculpture, depicting a story based on characters from medieval Germany. Constructed from 3-medium to large sized pieces of Oak, each team had to follow specific guidelines in the construction of each sculpture. And the pressure was really on as the story’s writer was not only present, but also one of the judges at the competition.
The author - Sebine Ebert - said, she was “absolutely thrilled with all the pieces,” and that they were “all winning pieces” in her eyes.
Simon’s team finished fourth, ahead of the women’s team, but with the two American teams and Ecuadorian team pipping him to the post for a cash prize.
Simon commented: “I was really pleased with our team’s sculpture, and how we worked and gelled as a team throughout the 8-days. Looking back I could see things that I would have done differently. But I think what put the other teams above us was the movement in their pieces. Even if they were not perfectly anatomically correct, they wowed people with the illusion of movement. It was a tough competition but I have learnt a lot from it.”
But it was not all doom and gloom for the 34-year old carver; Simon was presented with a ‘star’, on the ‘Chainsaw Carver’s Walk of Fame’, (which is a chainsaw sprocket) for being the ‘Best Chainsaw Sculptor in Great Britain’. When asked about how he felt, he said, “I couldn’t believe it, I was really, really honoured.”
Simon’s ‘star’ is the eighth star on the ‘walk’, placed next to seven other fantastic world-class carvers.
The next competition was held in Chetwynd, British Columbia, where Simon was invited back as a ‘Champion of Champions’ from a previous year’s 3rd place finish. This time saw Simon carve a spectacular 12ft 4inch interpretation of ‘Tegid Foel’ - a giant who is the legendary guardian of Bala Lake in North Wales according to the Welsh “Mabinogion” stories.
‘Tegid’ is shown emerging from the lake in search of his long lost daughter. One spectator was moved to tears by the piece, with many others complementing Simon on the sheer enormity and ‘wow factor’ of the piece, not to mention the accuracy and attention to detail. It secured Simon a very respectable 5th place out of 11.
The final competition of the 5-week tour took Simon to Reedsport, Oregan, on the West Coast of the States.
Here Simon competed against 40 other carvers to place 10th with a wonderfully creative piece that kept the crowds guessing right until the last few hours of the competition. The piece was entitled, ‘There’s two sides to every story....’
His sculpture depicted a strong, majestic eagle on one side, diving for a Salmon in the river, and the smart Salmon leaping away from the Eagle’s clutches on its reverse.
Simon also got a prize for one of the highest speed carves for his 90-minute speed carve on the last day. Later, he took part in an ice carving demonstration too, with fellow carver and good friend, Chris Foltz, who both amazed the crowds with their speed, skill and showmanship.
And Simon may now be heading off to Alaska next February to compete as part of Chris’s 4-man team in ‘Ice Alaska’. Simon commented: “It would be a real honour if I get to go and compete with Chris, particularly in the medium of ice. I know this event is a big deal so it would be really cool if I get to go, but I’m holding it lightly as I know there are quite a few details that still need to be figured out.”
Simon will be competing next on home soil at the ‘English Open’ at Tabley House, Cheshire, over the August Bank Holiday weekend. The chainsaw carving competition is part of the Cheshire Game and Country Show, taking place over the whole weekend.