Page’s Wood Commission Part One: The Concept

Page’s Wood Commission

This month so far, Simon has been spending time working on 12 sculptures commissioned by The Forestry Commission. The pieces will form two sculpture trails scheduled to be installed in Page’s Wood in Upminster at the end of the month.

The woodland itself is the largest in the area. It boasts close to 183 acres of land, and around 100,000 trees. Can you imagine having the job of counting them?! It also has close to 7km of path for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. All of this provides a rich variety of different habitat for wildlife. Simon’s sculptures will join others designed by local children and appear throughout the woodland.

Jobs like this Page’s Wood commission don’t happen overnight, so we thought we would use this blog to share some of the process.

Owl for the Page's Wood Commission in progress in Simon O'Rourke's workshop


A Team Approach

Projects like this are perfect for us. Simon creates amazing animals full of texture, expression and character, so wildlife commissions suit his skills. Beyond that though, the thinking and vision behind the project are an extremely good fit for the whole team. Simon and his wife Liz enjoy spending time outdoors. In their daily lives they also consider how to best steward and care for, the resources we have. Not only that, but Liz is also a qualified Forest School teacher. That means the educational aspect of this project – teaching about the area, encouraging people to connect with the environment and wildlife, and to think about how to look after it – is something very much on her heart too. Liz is also a natural writer.  She has vision, passion and inspired ideas for using story to connect with and teach children – Cue some team work…..!!!!

Vole concept sketch by Simon O'Rourke for Page's Wood Commission
Concept sketch and poetry for Verity the Water Vole


The Beginning of the Page’s Wood Commission

In the early stages, there are many emails back and forth. These include talk about budgets, safety, and legalities, as well as the proposal for the project itself. These details are not just artistic, but include things like where the timber will be sourced.

For this commission Simon and Liz had to focus on two separate trails through the area, and chose to tell the story of the habitat through the eyes of two key characters: Horatio Hedgehog, and Verity the Water Vole. 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 hope is, that as well as enjoying the art, the trail will be educational. It will hopefully raise awareness of local wildlife, 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.


Hedgehog concept sketch by Simon O'Rourke for Dragonfly concept sketch by Simon O'Rourke for Page's Wood Commission
Concept sketch and poetry for Horatio the Hedgehog
Dragonfly concept sketch by Simon O'Rourke for Page's Wood Commission
Concept sketch and poetry for Dragonfly encounter

Have our concept sketches caught your eye? You can see them realised and installed in part two of the blog!

You can also commission Simon for your own sculpture trail by emailing