Wooden carvings on the road

ROADSIDE wood carvings are causing a stir just outside Sidmouth.

Sat in a layby just past the Bowd Inn on the A3052 are owls, hares, mushrooms a meerkat and a bear. They are the handiwork of Simon, a travelling wood carver from Bristol. He uses a chainsaw to make the initial shapes out of hard and soft woods, including beech and cedar, then sands and refines them as necessary.

A scaffolder by trade, he started carving six years ago.

“I didn’t have any work on at the time, so went on the road with a friend from Cornwall making wooden mushrooms,” he said. “I stumbled into this - I was alright at art at school, but I’ve never been trained or been to art college.”

He tours Devon and Cornwall annually selling his creations, starting in Newquay at Easter, travelling up through Devon as far as Barnstaple, and looping back into Cornwall via Sidmouth, finishing up in Looe.

“Sidmouth has to be my favourite of all the places I go, you get all walks of life stopping off,” he said. “I arrived in time for FolkWeek and will probably stay until I’ve used up the timber I’ve got, but a month is usually long enough in any one place.”

A sculpture such as an 8ft bear is a day’s work, while more intricate pieces such as a hare can take up to four days. The wood comes from local sawmills and tree surgeons, which, while he’s in the Sidmouth area, includes Sid Valley Tree Surgery. Off-cuts are free for people to take away for firewood.

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Business is good. “The meerkats have been particularly popular since that TV ad campaign started,” said Simon.

People can check out the carvings in the layby or contact Simon on 07891586824 or via www.carvedcuriosities.webs.com.