Game of Thrones sculptor creates woodland animal trail through Pages Wood
PUBLISHED: 12:12 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:42 11 April 2019
Have you spotted the wooden creatures created by an award winning sculptor that are part of the new woodland trail through Pages Wood in Upminster?
Well if you haven’t you certainly should, not just because they look brilliant, but because they have been carved by an artist who has recently been named as one of only 18 sculptors in the world commissioned to create a bespoke Game of Thrones piece of art.
The sculptures include owls, frogs, hedgehogs and a dragonfly, and take you through the woodlands and along the river close to the A127.
Crafted by wood sculptor Simon O’Rourke, the trails tell the tale of Verity the Water Vole and Horatio Hedgehog, and the animals they meet on their walks.
Both trails finish with benches with fantastic viewpoints, and there are 10 new wooden sculptures in total - five along each trail.
Using poetry that can easily be read and understood by readers of all ages and stages, they introduce the viewer to key animals and aspects of the environment, sculpture by sculpture.
The sculptures join a host already in place that were designed by local children, and are intended to draw people in, and encourage them to not only give a reason for taking a walk, but also to help educate and encourage people to learn more about the area.
Part of the Land of the Fanns project with Forestry England, the new sculptures have been crafted by Simon O’Rourke from Anglesey in Wales - who has also been commissioned to create a magnificent dragon egg Game of Thrones sculpture.
The Pages Wood project has taken a number of months, and Simon and his wife Liz have worked on it all the way from the concept and draft stage.
Talking about the project Simon said: “The hope is, that as well as enjoying the art for art’s sake, the trail will make the viewer aware of the wildlife that inhabit the locality, and show the viewer how we can look after the environment, even through simple acts like taking litter home and supporting the vital work of the Forestry Commission.
“It’s a satisfying feeling to see a sculpture go from a sketch and a proposal, through the process of bringing it shape and life in the timber, to the final stage of seeing it in its new home, where often, sitting it its ‘right’ environment seems to bring more life and colour to the piece.
“It’s a privilege for us when our art also serves a greater purpose. We believe art will always have purpose for its own sake, but in the case of this sculpture trail, it also serves to encourage people (children especially) to finish a walk when it might be more tempting (if your kids are anything like some of the ones in our lives!) to return to a game of Fortnite or the to-do list of jobs around the house.
“The animals themselves reflect the local population and help raise awareness of the environment around us, and the stories help educate the reader about what we can do to help steward and protect that environment.
“We hope that as people wander these two trails, not only will they enjoy finding and viewing the sculptures, but they will also warm to the characters and feel inspired to take small steps to help protect their beautiful surroundings.”
The Land of the Fanns Landscape Partnership Scheme is a five-year programme that aims to restore and celebrate 11 landscape character areas that cross in Havering and Barking and Dagenham.
The projects are split into five categories; restoring and reconnecting the Land of the Fanns, understanding the area with community mapping and archaeology projects, attachment to the area with volunteer and community projects and enjoying the area with conferences and a potential Arts Festival.
Pete O’Rourke, beat manager for Thames Chase told the Recorder the trail is to encourage families and children to have a more “immersive” experience when visiting the woods.
He said: “We’re incredibly lucky to have Simon on board, and to have him create these fantastic sculptures for the trail.
“Each one of them tells a bit of a story, and you have to go and see them to appreciate just how skilled he is.”