St Michaels Hurst Obelisk

Hand hewn wooden obelisks and other items, make wonderful garden features and can be made to a variety of sizes each with bespoke inscriptions. Please contact me to discuss your requirements.

St Michaels Hurst obelisk

This commission was the result of a public art competition held by the developer Countryside, to make a piece of art for their housing development at St Michael's Hurst in Bishop's Stortford. The obelisk was carved between March and June 2020 and installed in June of that year.

The commission created an exciting opportunity for a collaboration between myself and the craftsman Steve Woodley. Steve is a talented and skilled craftsman who specialises in the traditional method of hand-hewing timber, using a variety of axes, designed especially for this purpose. The obelisk for this project was hewn from a locally sourced piece of sweet chestnut.

Steve designed the obelisk using proportions based on the Fibonacci sequence. The sequence is commonly found in nature, for example in the formation of branches, leaves, flowers and seeds. The obelisk is 2.1 metres tall and 300 mm wide at the base.

The only stipulation for the brief was that it had to contain a vine leaf as this is the logo for the development. Using this as my guide, I visited the local vineyard at Hazel End and drew vine leaves. The vineyard grows four varieties of grapes, Bacchus, Huxelrebe, Reichensteiner and Muller Thurgau, which I carved into each side of the obelisk. An obelisk seemed the perfect solution to incorporate the grape names and to fit into the space available at the location.

  Work in Progress

The photos immediately below show Steve shaping the obelisk; the completed first side 'Bacchus'; and a detail of the sunlight catching my wood carving tools and the vine leaves being carved. Steve carved the point at the top of the obelisk after the lettering was carved. This was done last as it allowed us to keep adding oil to the top and bottom of the obelisk to help control the drying out of the wood. Spells of wet weather were, for once, very welcome as they slowed the timber drying out.

This photo shows how the light picks up the axe marks which makes for a beautiful texture and brings life to the surface of the obelisk. 

In contrast, a flat machine-made surface would be lifeless and lacking in interest.