With his enormous sculpture of a hand rising from a tree stump, artist Simon O’Rourke gives new meaning to the term “palm tree.” The artwork, Giant Hand of Vyrnwy, stands 50 feet tall and changes right before your eyes. The sculpture’s base is a typical tree, but as you look up, it starts to shed its bark and transform into an arm with smooth skin, ending with the soft creases in the palm and fingers. This change from rough to smooth has a mythical feel, as though a giant were attempting to land on Earth.
The previous tallest tree in Wales is adorned with the Giant Hand of Vyrnwy carving. In fact, O’Rourke was given the opportunity to make the artwork in the first place. Natural Resource Wales intended to contract an artist to carve the tree after it was cut down since it had been storm-damaged.
The idea of carving this enormous figure and making a tribute for such a well-known site “really intrigued me,” says O’Rourke. “I started looking into the area and discovered that the Giants of Vyrnwy were the name of the wooded area where the tree was located. This got me to thinking, so I chose a huge hand to represent the giants and the tree’s final attempt to reach the sky.
The necessary equipment and a committed work ethic were needed to create such an outstanding sculpture. The artist recalls, “To make it safe to work on, a scaffold was required, and the terrain was so tough that it took two days to create the scaffold. “Intensive labor using chainsaws and grinders continued for six days. The tree wasn’t wide enough to construct the entire hand, so I had to add two sections to make the thumb and little finger. When the sculpture was finished, O’Rourke covered it in tung oil, an environmentally friendly oil made from natural plant sources.
The method was not only a magnificent piece of art, but it also served as a helpful lesson for O’Rourke. I really enjoyed working on the hand sculpture because it made me realize how tiny we are in comparison to some of the other living things on the world, he says. Overall, it was a humble experience.
Chainsaw artist Simon O’Rourke carved a massive hand sprouting from a tree stump.
The process of creating the piece was laborious. Over the course of six days, O’Rourke sculpted the hand while on a scaffold.
Everyone may now admire the sculpture because it is situated close to Lake Vyrnwy, a reservoir in Powys, Wales.