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owl art studio
robin with the owl bench

a certain number of owl studio projects were done on a larger scale, out in the public domain, and required a co-operative team effort to take shape. the street-garden project was one of these;  the larger carvings another, particularly those done from dead trees in Gladstone Park, London NW2.

my first degree was a BA, Theatre Arts, University of Ottawa.  that was all about the group effort, putting on plays, getting things up and on a stage in front of an audience, with all that that entails.  Showing Up was the first move; Working To A Deadline was another.  Don't Let's Kill Each Other was a tough one - all that mad energy of impetuous youth...we believed in Art.   (also, we were not at all eager to Die On Stage.)

all this long-dormant experience of teamwork organization came through in co-ordinating our efforts to get the big carving projects done.  these things are right out in public:  we cannot bodge it all up, FAIL, slink away to pretend it wasn't us. (not me, Officer.)  nervous tension was ever an undercurrent - good adrenaline-charged fun.

in the end, Gladstone Park received five carvings from owl art studio:  the Millennium Whale, 2000;  the Standing Squid, 2002;  Owl Bench, and Noah's Ark, both 2003; and the Turtle Whale, 2005.

Whale: Behold Leviathan
millenium whale photo by daniel scott

first came the Whale: 'Behold, Leviathan' - our Millennium Project.  (well, the Millennium was upon us - exploit the connection.) 

my jogging route round the park took me past a felled tree.  every time i passed it it was clearer to me that this was in fact a grey whale swimming with rare determination across the green grass - full of personality.whale  

i'd by then already carved 'owl post', my first piece, and was starting to build up momentum.  could i get my hands on this one?  bring out the inner life to the eyes of the world?  how to go about it, how to get started?

we refer once again to the Goethe theory of 'seek and ye shall find'.  the grand Countess Mariescu Romanov was then attending my osteopathy clinic:  'I'm in charge of the park - yes, you can do it.'  ever a high hand, our countess, and (in this case at least), quite right.

her next contribution was just as important:  she introduced me to Andy Treepirate (his nom de chainsaw), who'd been carving outside her restaurant in nearby Roundwood Park.   the five giant carvings that finally materialized would never have arrived without the hard, skilled work put in by Andy.  a non-local, he took time off work and travelled from his home in Brittany to stay on my couch and do each one for very little money; rather, for the fascination of his craft.  everyone who enjoys Gladstone Park owes Andy a huge thank-you.

once started, we worked on the principle of using what we had - another chance, now on a huge scale, to explore that fascinating juncture where the representational meets the abstract.  the thick butt-end of the trunk was moved up on to the stump (a logistical feat) to give us a whale breaking the water, thrusting up into the air.  the taper away from the butt gave the body of the whale; we saved all the random jutting branches to serve as fins, or breaking waves, or ... whatever;  it did all fit together in the end, retaining the original harmony.

even before we started, we'd announced a Grand Opening.  (this was motivation to finish on time.)  we put out fliers and leaflets, and wondered  'will anyone come? maybe a dozen or so?'  dear me - there must've been a hundred people showed up, we were amazed ... a newspaper reporter and photographer and all.  celebrate, celebrate!  Andy and Adie juggled fire-torches; festive ambience; lots of photos, and a good time was had by all.

that wound down, the younger generation went off home, twilight flowed into the park, and we covered the rising length of the Whale with dozens of candles.  i walked up into the park to survey the finished project from a distance ... we did it.  a job well done.

read about the standing squid squid
read about noah's ark and the owl bench owl bench
read about calligraphy calligraphy
read about owl art studio in the press press
a few words about carving carving
a few words about drawing drawing
owl art studio