Above: One of the new fairy houses in Clonakilty
Just before Christmas, Nathan Solomon was seen wielding his chainsaw at the top of McCurtain Hill in Clonakilty. Fascinated passersby stopped to watch, as with each stroke of this mighty tool, forlorn-looking tree stumps were very quickly transformed into mythical creatures, animals, birds and fairy houses.
Nathan Solomon is a chainsaw artist. Originally from the UK, he moved to West Cork over 22 years ago and lives with his family in Drimoleague. Starting off with a chainsaw set from Coillte, Nathan initially cut firewood for sale and developed his skills as a furniture maker, before starting to create chainsaw sculptures, which he has been doing full-time for the past 10 years.
A lot of his commissions come from clients who are removing a tree from their land but want to do something artistic and productive with the stump of the tree. “Quite often the tree dictates what you can and can’t create out of a piece, so I do my best to work around that,” Nathan explains. “I recently finished a job in West Cork that involved making a mermaid out of a big fallen Scotch Pine. By the time I had cut away everything that was rotting, the face of mermaid had emerged. It just all came together.”
One of the pieces Nathan is most proud of is a four tonne throne that he just completed at Fota Island Resort. “It’s carved out of a 200-year-old oak tree and features dolphins jumping out of the waves. It’s a very playful piece and was a real privilege to work on a piece of wood like this.”
Another sculpture that Nathan was very satisfied with was a druid he carved in the Mealagh Valley. “Inspired by an ancient story, it’s 15ft tall and set into the corner of a wall on a beautiful road. You discover the druid as you walk along it.”
“I’m lucky that people leave me at it most of the time,” says Nathan. The project in Clonakilty is the story of a magical village, as a child would look at it…looking in a little fairy door or up a stairs with lots of room for the imagination to roam free.
“In my youth I was idealistic and didn’t think trees should be cut down at all,” says Nathan. “But living and working with timber, I learned that management and use of timber is quite essential. To take a tool like a chainsaw and use it to create something beautiful out of wood makes me very proud.”
To see more of Nathan’s work or to get in touch with him go to www.facebook.com/wyrdwoods/ or email: email@example.com.