The Limerick chain-saw sculptor, who lives at the foot of the Ballyhoura Hills on the south Limerick, north Cork border, is not only surrounded by forests and mountains but is inspired by them. Having worked in construction for many years, Will Fogarty eventually found his passion.
He began carving walking sticks and staffs, made from hazel wood collected in his local forest. By accident his craft evolved into chainsaw carving. Will now spends half of his time creating large municipal sculptures for towns, parks or schools. The other half is spent carving small commissioned pieces for home or garden.
“To turn a fallen tree or stump into something beautiful and useable creates a huge feeling of joy and satisfaction. I see beauty come through the wood and know that the piece of work I’m carving will be enjoyed for years to come. That’s quite special,” the former LIT engineering graduate and self-taught wood sculptor said.
Chain-saw carving might seem incongruous but it is a great way to add interest and refinement to a wooden piece using natural material from its own habitat. All work is done on wood felled by nature or cut down in a sustainable way. It gives new life to something cut off from source and allows the sculptor to freely express creativity with imagination and flair.
‘It is made to last a long time,’ said the Limerick craftsman. ‘The appearance of the wood won’t likely stay in prime condition unless you care for it and maintain it. But a treatment plan can be worked out that takes into consideration all aspects including environmental conditions.’ according to Fear na Coillte, who says that his assumed name refers both to the wood spirits and to himself.
Said to originate from east European villagers who made long journeys into the forest, wood spirits became legendary. Wise travellers carved woods spirits on their sticks to appease the spirits themselves and ensure travellers’ safety. Before they entered the woods, they would knock on a tree to waken the sleeping spirits to protect them, hence the saying ‘touch wood’!
Will Fogarty is a member of Le Chéile, a group of artists who believe in making beautiful craft. Le Chéile showcases the work of its members, sets high standards and creates a synergy that brings their work to another level. ‘Ní neart go chur le chéile’ is their motto. ‘We believe that in working together we can be the best,’ said an energised Will Fogarty
He will demonstrate his craft on the Fair Green in Scariff between 12 noon and 6pm both on Saturday and Sunday of the August Bank Holiday week-end during Scariff Harbour Festival. The Festival runs from the 1st-4th August.