A Charming Pheasant Sculpture in Oak

As an artist it’s a great compliment when a client returns for another sculpture. That’s exactly what happened with the piece featured in today’s blog: A charming pheasant sculpture in oak, created for a local estate…

A pheasant sculpture in oak. it's newly made and surrounded in sawdust


One of the perks of my job is that I get to meet all kinds of interesting people who are doing amazing things! I like to give them a bit of a shoutout in this blog when I can. For example, did you see the blog about The Movement Centre? Or the one about The Joshua Tree?
In a world with lots of negativity in our newsfeeds, it’s great to be able to share where people are doing good things and making a difference, orr using their gifts, talents and time to benefit community.

The client who commissioned this charming pheasant sculpture is a local estate owner, Ed Barnston. I’d made some sculptures for him before, and when I received this commission it was so good to catch up and extremely interesting and encouraging to see all he’s doing on the Barnston estate.

His vision for the estate is to “enhance and protect our land, the jobs and skills it encourages and the community it serves.” And they’re certainly doing that through everything they do whether agriculture, investing in renewables or creating jobs and sustainable, affordable housing.

But back to the sculpture!!!


In 2023 one of the oaks on the estate had to be cut down due to rot. As regular readers know, I only use timber from trees that are dead, diseased or dying. It’s always sad to lose a tree, and this one was 250 years old, so there was a lot of history. Rather than say a complete goodbye, my client decided to transform it into a pheasant sculpture. In his own words:
We wanted to do something memorable and rather fun with the beautiful old oak trunk “.

They got in touch, and , taking inspiration from the Barnston estate branding, I hopped in my truck, popped over to the next village and got cracking on the pheasant sculpture.

Photo of a charming pheasant sculpture in oak standing in woodland on the Barston estate. Created by artist simon o'rourke.


There are always some practicalities to consider when I do an on-site carving. In the case of the pheasant, access to the land and space to work were all great. We did however need to move the trunk to a more suitable spot. It weighted over half a ton, so thankfully we were able to use one of the estate’s mini tractors to move it and flip it 180° so I could get the best sculpture from the timber.

Although working on site can be messy and noisy for my client, I do think there can be something special for them to see the creation process. In this case my client confirms this and says “It was amazing to see Simon in action armed with a chainsaw and bags of creativity“.

a charming pheasant sculpture in oak created by artist simon o'rourke, situated on the Barnston etsate in Farndon


It’s worth noting that when I do an on-site carving, the creation process doesn’t always end when I leave. Sometimes my client will want to varnish or oil the piece to protect it against our British weather. It may be that the timber has to dry out before that happens. If that’s the case, you can hire me to come back and do it, but it’s often easier (and more economical!) for clients to do that part themselves.

That was the case with this pheasant, so it was a few months before I got to see it in its finished state and fully installed in its new home (thank you to the Barnston Estate for sending the photos above!). I think it’s looking lovely! What do you think?

Of course, the most important opinion is my clients, so I’ll end this blog with a testimonial from him:

The finished piece is a work of art. We have treated it with a clear varnish to protect the wood and it is now sitting in pride of place in the grounds of the Estate. Everyone who has seen it loves it.”

metal plaque screwed into varnished oak sculpture bearing artist name (Simon O'Rourke), logo, website, and phone number

If you would like to commission a sculpture, please get in touch via www.treecarving.co.uk/contact

I am also currently looking for sponsors for a documentar about me and my work featuring a 5, fire-breathing dragon sculpture. Please visit www.treecarving.co.uk/film-project for details or to make a contribution to the crowdfunder (only donors and sponsors will see the finished film).