London's Tree Trunk Tour

The Partnership

The Tree Trunk Tour is a co-operative partnership involving Tourism London, the City of London, STIHL Canada and most recently, the Hamilton Road Business Association. The brainchild of the Woodfield Community Association, the first five carvings were completed with community support and fundraising activities in the Woodfield Community Association.

Recognizing the 'walking tour' potential of tree carvings as public art, Tourism London became involved and with the support of STIHL Canada and the City of London, developed tree carvings within the Woodfield Community Association boundaries. Recently, the Tree Trunk Tour has been expanded along Hamilton Road with the addition of fifteen carvings.

STIHL Canada, a major manufacturer of chainsaws is headquartered in London and has matched Tourism London's financial contribution to the project and has also supplied the artists with equipment and clothing.

The Process

The Tree Trunk Tour demonstrates London's love of trees and is enhancing its reputation as the 'Forest City'. Carvers have
created sculptures that, instead of being confined to an art
gallery, are right out on public streets.

From tree stump to concept drawing and the final carving, it takes about 4 weeks to transform the tree into a sculpture. About 95% of the carving is done with chainsaws ranging in size from large blocking saws to delicate carving saws. Detailed finishing work is accomplished with chisels and power rotary tools. The Artwork is usually painted or
stained and then coated with automotive polyurethane enamel
to preserve the wood against the weather.

The Artists

Robbin Wenzoski

Robbin was born in Golden, British Columbia and whether it was working in plywood plants, auto body shops or building log homes, Robbin has always worked with his hands. Moving to Ontario in the late 1980's, Robbin continued to work around wood in both construction and carpentry.
Over the past few years Robbin has become a master carver whose work has received national recognition. His focus has been chainsaw carving tree trunks, fine sculpture and performing live demonstrations. Robbin's future plans include operating a carving school in Western Canada. Robbin currently resides in Embro, Ontario.

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Neil Cox

Neil was born in Ingersoll, Ontario and has had an interest in working with wood early in life. At the age of 26, he was making furniture in Vancouver, and a few years later began carving wood. Neil is essentially self-taught, having apprenticed with Stefan Vinyarszky in North Carolina, and spending six months in Italy learning to carve marble. He has traveled widely, visiting sculptors and museums throughout North America and Europe in order to expand his artistic knowledge and ability. He has won several Best of Show awards at woodcarving shows across North America. His work is primarily figurative in style and often allegorical. Neil currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.

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Ted Hayes

A graduate of HB Beal and Fanshawe College Arts Program, Ted Hayes has carved ice and snow at the Quebec Winter Carnival, Winterlude in Ottawa as well as in Europe, the U.S. and across Canada. Although he now specializes in the fine carving of walking sticks and fireplace mantles, he continues to use a chainsaw carving tree stubs and contribute to London's Tree Trunk Tour program.

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Mike Winia

Mike Winia has had a STIHL chainsaw in his hands since he was 10 years old and it was clear from that early age that he was a gifted artist. Starting his own logging business, he encouraged proper bush management throughout south-western Ontario and like most carvers, Mike started chainsaw sculpting in his spare time. Combining his knowledge of STIHL chainsaws and his artistic ability, he has demonstrated that it's a perfect combination for creating some outstanding chainsaw carvings. Mike and his family live in London.

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Nancy Wood

Nancy was born in Saint John New Brunswick. She was inspired to start carving in 2003 after seeing a woodcarving that opened her eyes to the possibilities of this exciting art form. Nancy initially started carving with hand chisels and power carving tools. Her goal was always to carve "something big". After meeting Robbin Wenzoski in 2008 and attending seminars, she learned the many techniques required to safely operate a chainsaw. She has continued to learn from Robbin and enjoys participating in chainsaw carving events. Carving "The Shepherd" on Hamilton Rd in 2012 has been a highlight in her carving career.

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Mary-Ann Jack-Bleach

Mary-Ann was born in Fish Hoek, South Africa and started carving at the age of 19. In 1987, as an Occupational Therapist she was recruited to work in London's UH Transplant Unit. Since 1990 she has become an award winning carver, teacher and judge. She has written numerous articles for Wood Carving Illustrated. In 2011 one of her 2008 articles was included in Fox Chapel's book entitled "Relief Carving Projects & Techniques (Best of WCI)". Despite living with a brain tumour, Mary-Ann remains an active member of London's Artist Community. She is grateful to STIHL for creating a viable Battery Operated Chainsaw as this has enabled her to enjoy the art of chainsaw carving.

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