Kirrie artist goes to the top of the tree with latest commission

Kirriemuir artist Alistair Jelks has been getting back to nature as part of a recent commission for The Woodland Trust.

The trust’s original request was for five sculptures which would be sited at Formonthills woodland, near Glenrothes, to provide focal points and to encourage public interest in this new community woodland.

Two of Alistair’s five submitted ideas were accepted - a standing stone circle, and a totem pole.

He said: “I don’t know where I got the idea for a totem pole but when it comes to producing art for the land, more primitive ideas seem to come to mind.

“I usually look at where sculptures are to sited to get my ideas, when producing art for the land, stone and wood are an obvious fit.”

The totem pole, at the trust’s request, features woodland animals including an earthworm, a mouse, hedgehog, rabbit, red squirrel, a red robin, a pipistrelle bat and a buzzard at the top and Alistair said he faced a steep learning curve as it was his first attempt at wood carving.

He continued: “I was confident I could achieve this but didn’t realise how hard it would be. I love to be ambitious but didn’t realise how big the tree was until it was erected, it looked a lot smaller lying on its side.

“Even then I wondered if I would manage one or two animals a day but the best I ever did was probably four days for one animal; the buzzard at the top must have taken about 10 days and these days were sun up till sun down days, sometimes in blizzard conditions.”

Despite the working seven days-a-week, and the challenges presented by the job, Alistair said he will miss it.

“I will actually miss carving wood in the great open outdoors! I think it’s what I’m meant to be doing and I’d like to think I now have a decent amount of knowledge. I’m very keen to start my next project!