Have you met the Gruffalo’s friends in the Old Arboretum?

The Gruffalo in the deep dark wood of the Old Arboretum has recently been joined by beautiful sculptures of the mouse, snake, fox, owl and squirrel. Find out more about how they were created in an exciting guest post from their sculptor, David Lucas

My name is David Lucas, and I created the Gruffalo character sculptures for Westonbirt Arboretum, in collaboration with the Forestry Commission and Magic Light Pictures. The Westonbirt sculptures were part of a larger nationwide commission to create 70 Gruffalo characters for 14 different Forestry Commission sites.

The Gruffalo sculpture itself had been created previously by a different sculptor but now it was my job to imagine, create and reunite the Gruffalo with his woodland friends….mouse, snake, owl, fox and squirrel.

The process of creating these sculptures began with the humble pencil as I sketched my designs. Once the designs had been approved then the real fun started as I used my collection of chainsaws to reveal the characters hidden within the large tree stumps. Once carved, the sculptures were then sanded and some of the finer details were added with various electric and hand tools. The final process involved the use of wood stains to give the characters their iconic colouring and to really bring them to life. I still find it amazing how a well-positioned black dot for a pupil can really animate a sculpture and bring out the character within!

Once a set of characters were completed, they were carefully loaded onto a lorry before heading off to their new home.

All the timber that I’ve used to sculpt these characters has come from the Forestry Commission and is therefore sustainably sourced.

It was an absolute pleasure to be able to create these sculptures for Westonbirt and I hope they will be enjoyed for many years to come by young and old alike. I look forward to seeing your photos on the Westonbirt Facebook page and next time you explore the deep dark wood then please give the sculptures a little cuddle from me.

Watch this space for time lapse videos of their creation on my YouTube channel….coming soon!


See the Gruffalo and his friends in our new Gruffalo Wood in the Old Arboretum at Westonbirt.

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