Friends of Westonbirt Arboretum

Big carving is back at Treefest

Posted: June 22, 2012 at 13:46 pm Author: Ben Oliver

Treefest is Westonbirt's signature summer event. Our 2011 visitor survey showed that you wanted more big wood carving at Treefest, so we're working with a select group of carvers for this year's event. Here, Ben Oliver, who has commissioned the work, tells more about why this year's big carvings will be staying at Westonbirt for famililes to enjoy...

I have always loved mucking about in woods. Even though as an adult I'm supposed to know better, I still enjoy playing around when no-one's watching or I think I can get away with it (young nieces are a great excuse).

This is one of the many reasons I love working at Westonbirt - I get to encourage people to get up close and personal with trees for a living!

Unfortunately today many children don't have the natural play opportunities I enjoy. Its unfortunate for two reasons - firstly because it is great fun, but secondly (and perhaps more importantly) because there is widespread evidence that the strongest environmental sensibilities in adulthood stem from childhood experiences of playing in nature.

But we're aiming to change this!

I'm particularly excited about this year's Treefest carving as for the first time the sculptures produced will be staying at Westonbirt.


Having watched children play on the finished sculptures at the end of previous events, it has always struck me that these beautiful carvings are ideal for play.

Three carefully selected sculptors will turn a Douglas fir and oak trunk produced through our routine management into a playful work of art - giving it a new life in the arboretum.

Knock on wood front designKnock on wood back design

Each finished piece will have a different theme and play opportunity:

'Knock on Wood' will be a musical sculpture for people to play (for good luck of course); 'Natural Treasures' is based on Van Gogh's quote "If you love Nature, you will find beauty everywhere'' and aims to encourage families to share their interesting natural finds for others to enjoy; and lastly 'What time is it, Mr Wolf?' will provide an ornately carved chair for the wolves to sit while the sheep hide!

After Treefest each will move to its new home in Silk Wood for visitors to discover and enjoy - look out for the updated play trail map in autumn.

Useful links

For families: Westonbirt's play trail

Friends membership: great value for families