Chainsaw artists turn dead ash trees into art
You know the old saying, “when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade?”
Well, at one West Quebec school they’ve got a slightly different version.
It goes something like this, “when the Emerald Ash Borer beetle hands you 40 dead ash trees, make tree sculptures.”
Better yet, get some of the best chainsaw artists in North America to make tree sculptures.
Fourteen chainsaw artists have gathered on the grounds of Eardley Elementary School in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau to do just that. They are turning a path lined with ash tree trunks into an avenue of organic art. “Where else in Canada would you find 40 trees in parallel rows?” says school principal Ralph Mason.
The idea came about when the trees started dying. One parent at the school hated the idea of removing them. He knew of a local tree carver, who in turn enlisted the aid of thirteen friends he knows from international carving competitions.
Competitive carver Randy Gauthier came all the way from Moberly Lake in northern British Columbia to take part in the unique project. “Well I think it's absolutely great. You've got a wonderful canvas right here and, you know, the imagination, just let it run, right?" he says.
Within a few hours, shapes were already beginning to emerge from the trees, from eagles in flight to howling wolves to a Viking warrior. The carvers exhibiting a delicate, if somewhat noisy, touch with their powerful Stihls and Husqvarnas.
The shapes are inspired by the school’s students who submitted hundreds of drawings for the carvers to choose from. Gauthier is carving three howling wolves into one tree. The wolf is the Eardley school mascot.
The school will also plant new trees in between the carvings to eventually take the place of the once-stately ash trees.
The event is also a fundraiser for the school. The carvers are auctioning off some separate works on display in the school yard. "So this is kind of a win-win for everybody," says Mason. "It helps our students. It gives back to the community, and it turns these trees that would otherwise have been completely destroyed into something beautiful."
The Eardley Tree Project takes place from 10am to 5pm daily from July 6th to the 9th.