What do Ruby the Owl, Horatio Hedgehog, Verity Vole and Fudge the Dachshund have in common? Not sure?
These are all protagonists from sculpture trails I’ve created. And now there’s a new character to add to the list.
Meet Matilda the Bee!
Matilda is the main character in a brand new bee story sculpture trail I’ve co-created with my wife Liz for Castle Park, Frodsham. I installed the trail this month, and it officially launches around Easter. I’m excited to share a bit more about it with you all…
About Castle Park, Frodsham:
Castle Park is around 9 hecatares of parkland in the grounds of a historic manor house. It’s built on the site of Frodsham Castle which burned down in 1654. Hence the name! You can read the full history HERE, but today it’s jointly owned/managed/run by Cheshire West and Cheshire Council and Castle Park Trust. It features beautiful gardens, play spaces, the historic home, bowling green, and tree trail walk. And now a sculpture trail too!
How the Bee Story Sculpture Trail Began
Last year Cheshire West & Chester County Council asked me to create a sculpture for them at Frodsham Castle Park. Initially they actually asked for a soldier! However, part of my business ethic is to help you find the best sculpture for your needs and preferences. I realised that in this case, a trail would give them much more for their budget. First there would be more pieces in a trail. Second, this meant they wouldn’t just be adding a sculpture for people to look at and maybe photograph. They would be adding a whole activity for the community to enjoy.
They loved the idea and I – along with Paul, the council, and trust – started playing with various ideas for a story trail. We settled on something to include Bees as the Frodsham Bee – like the Manchester Bee – is very famous locally and synonymous with the town.
Writing the Story for the Trail
Of course, before I ould start carving sculptures, the sculpture trail needed a story! In comes Liz! My wife is a published author and gifted children’s writer. We suggested that she could write the story. We also mentioned to them what we did with Fudge’s Evening Adventure, which is one of the ways you can use a sculpture trail I make to generate income for your business or cause. With Fudge, we worked with Matt & Rachel of Lower Farm to publish a book featuring my illustraions (based on the sketches for the trail) and Liz’s story. You can now buy the book HERE in aid of Alder Hey. Again, they loved the idea and so Liz got to work on a story and created Matild the Bee!
As always, we worked to make the story relevant to the community so feature references like the waffle cones sold at the pakr’s ice cream hut. Liz will also be doing some readings of the story at Frodsham Library during the Easter Holidays.
Creating Matilda and the Wasps
Once the story was written, I could get to work on the sculptures. I made most of the pieces out of cedar in the work shop using a combination of 3d sculpture, relief carving and engraving. I also used some dead oak for this sculpture of the ants carrying an ice cream cone…
The sculptures are all very different from one another, and they play with different heights, sizes and textures which hopefully keeps the interest of all ages and provides a varied sensory experience for those who rely on touch to experience art. Or who just prefer to! One of them is even installed in the air between two trees! Thank you to Shaine at Treetech and James Bentley who did the climbing for that one! It was a real Spiderman moment!
Completing the Trail
So, who can complete the trail? Anyone who visits Castle Park! As well as being able to walk around the sculptures, there will also be some added features in this trail like QR codes that take you to the story as you follow round the trail. So, make sure you charge your phone before you visit! We’ll get those added before the official launch at Easter, but you can already view the sculptures.
Final Thoughts on Matilda the Bee
This was a great project and I’m thrilled I was able to contribute. Liz and I are passionate about all things ‘environment’ and conservation. Although this trail doesn’t have a strong ecological message in the way my trails at Fforest Fawr or Meadow Park do, trails like this are still a fun way of being able to help people of all ages be more aware of the flora and fauna around them and the way it all relates to each other. It was fun to have a new challenge creating sculptures that focused on insects rather them being part of woodland pillars, and lovely to create something for the community to enjoy. Thank you to Castle Park Trust and Cheshire West and Chester Council for the opportunity!
If you would like to talk about a trail for your business/community please contact me via www.treecarving.co.uk/contact. Don’t worry if your ideas aren’t concrete. A commission like this is a collaboration and it will be a pleasure to help you find the best option for you!