Coldwaltham youngsters inspire chainsaw artist’s village sculpture

Youngsters at St James’ Primary School in Coldwaltham, have been busy helping renowned West Sussex chainsaw carver Dave Lucas from the Woodland Centre, develop ideas for a public artwork at the new Shackleton Close affordable housing development, due for completion in August this year.

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The 54 pupils, aged 4-11, attended the special woodcarving workshop organised at the school by local social housing provider Stonewater, which is delivering the eight low-cost village rental homes. The scheme is being developed in partnership with Horsham District Council and regional housebuilders Trinity Homes UK Ltd. Shackleton Close will offer four three-bedroom and four two-bedroom houses for local people with a connection to Coldwaltham.

The children’s workshop is tied in with Stonewater’s plans to create a public artwork for the scheme linked with the village’s local history and the development’s rural surroundings.

“It seemed fitting that we had an artwork which connected with the famous polar explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton whose wife and daughter lived in the Parish and are buried in St Giles’ Church graveyard in the village,” explains Stonewater Development Officer, Jackie Burton. “Working with the Woodland Centre, we came up with a basic idea of a large oak chest which Shackleton may have taken on his Antarctic expeditions. We then needed ideas for items which could be carved to put in it and the children came up with these at the school workshop. They included food, lanterns, maps, books – and a washing machine!

“It was a fun session which generated some excellent ideas from the youngsters – some of whom had done a school project on the explorer last year. Pupils also learned about the fantastic chainsaw carving projects that Dave Lucas and the Woodland Centre have created from the Gruffalo Owl and Ratty in the Wind in the Willows, to the world’s tallest daffodil. Dave was also able to take away some great carving ideas to work up for his final design which will be drawn up and submitted shortly for planning approval.”
The Woodland Centre in West Hoathly, is a family-run business that creates beautiful chainsaw carved timber sculptures from small, carry-away items to very large pieces weighing over 1,000 kilograms. The Centre’s sculptures can be seen at visitor attractions such as Kew Gardens, Westonbirt Arboretum, Marwell Wildlife and National Trust locations at Sheffield Park, Nyman's Park and Charlecote Park and various parks in Brighton as well as many public spaces.

Head Teacher Jon Gilbert says: “The children of Coldwaltham St James’ Primary School were delighted to be involved in this exciting project. The children have studied the expeditions of Shackleton in school and so were well equipped to help the artist with ideas for the sculpture. We are all very excited to see the final piece of art.”