Art For Everyone : Public Art Installations

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The Tree Trunk Tour is going to be on Hamilton Road, and I'm blogging its creation here.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Donohue's Canadiana

At the corner of King St and Waterloo St, stands 'Donohue's Canadiana' a large and complex entry on London's Tree Trunk Tour. It is located at the edge of the parking lot of the Donohue Funeral Home. This is, in my opinion, one of the finest examples of what can be achieved in the chainsaw carving art form. The theme of the piece is Canadian wildlife, though most of the animals and plants depicted are native to Ontario.

Please, click for a larger version of the pics.

Those 2 views do include most of the elements on the tree, but let's take a closer look at some of them, as we usually do.

At the top of the tree are several different features. the first is a Trillium, the official flower of Ontario. It's notable for its three wide petals, and long stamens in the center. The Ontario Government. uses the trillium as its provincial symbol. 


 At the other end is a wide open 5 pointed flower that might be a Carolina Spring Beauty. Both flowers are on thick stalks, but reach several feet above the central trunk.


Also on the upper, open spires of the tree, is a bee, perched in the middle of a daisy, or possibly a sunflower. Honeybees are an important part of Ontario's wildlife, and the province is well known for its honey. If I ever see a bee that is this large in relation to a sunflower, I'm moving to a different part of the planet.

Though obviously not to scale, the detail on the bee is very nice at this size.


On the third side, facing west, is a bird of prey sitting on a branch. Though Ontario is home to several different hawks and falcons, this might represent the Red Tailed Hawk. They are one of the largest hawks, and quite common in Ontario. Their high pitched cry is often the movie sound effect used for all birds of prey, and as such is well known to most people.

Depicted above the perched hawk is a Canada Goose, wings fully outstretched. We'll take a better look at him later.

Moving down to the next level of the piece, there are couple of items carved in-the-round here as well. The first, on the north side, is a woodpecker. Wikipedia lists 8 species of Woodpecker that are native to Ontario. This one is perfectly perched to start rapping away. He has a nicely shaped and detailed crest.


On the inside edge of one of the main 'spires' of the trunk is a large snail. His smoothly polished shell is noticeably different in texture that much of the rest of the the carving. Even his eyes have been shaped, showing serious attention to detail.

Thought we were done? No, no our design is just getting started, having worked his magic in-the- round on the top side of this trunk, Robbin Wenzoski shows us a talent for working in relief on the bottom half.

Off on its own is a lovely, deeply incised Lily of the Valley. The simple layers of each petal stand out very well.

There is a butterfly spread across the width of the tree with two five-pointed flowers. The markings on the wings would indicate it represents the Monarch a species which migrates from Ontario to Mexico and back again every year.

There is some cracking in the wood here, but I would argue it adds to the overall artistic effect.

And what could be more Canadian than the beaver? Mr. Beaver is tucked into the tree here, sitting on a few rocks. He stares at us, just as we stare in at him, his wide, rounded tail sits exposed. The pose leaves no question as to what animal we are looking at.

This side of the trunk is, packed full of different elements, stained with different tones of brown. We have the artists RAW ART logo in a heart shaped frame at the top. The 2008 date note is also in the frame. There are an owl, wings fully outstretched, beside a standing Great Blue Heron. Lower down there are two animals, which appear to be weasels, one climbing on a rock, and below that there is a turtle with a deeply grooved shell.

It is a really well executed mix. I find it more impressive to think it was done with a series of chainsaws.

To the left of the previous photo, facing more to the southeast, are more elements of the Canadian wilderness. The flowers at the left appear to be lupins, they and the large spider are tucked into the roots of the 'tree' created by shaping the top of the trunk.

Just above the frog is and inscription '39-'08 CRD. I was told by a member of the Donohue family that this is in memory of Catherine Donohue, who passed away shortly before the carving was completed.

As usual, we take a quick look at the artist's signature, and at anywhere condition issues may affect the work.

Things look quite stable, and all of the carved elements have great colour and texture. It is easy to see how the tree was having trouble when it was still alive, as its been paved in right up to the edges of its roots.

And now, back to my favourite part of 'Donohue's Canadiana". The Canada Goose at the top of the north side is just great to look at. First, with wing fully extended, it looks more like a jet aircraft than a bird, and its tucked in feet and extended neck really give it a feeling of speed. Second, tilting it perpendicular to the ground makes viewing the top and bottom of the bird possible, and ensures that no detail is lost, hidden in permanent shadow. In my opinion, superb choices.

If you have read some other entries on the site, I think the length of this one, and the number of pictures say a lot about how much I admire the work put into its creation and the results achieved. I don't think rating art as good or bad is very fair, as tastes vary between people. I would say this is one of my personal favorites, and certainly, if you were only going to visit one or two of the trees on the tour, I would put this at the top of the list.

Return to the Tree Trunk Tour Overview Page
Check out all the entries using the London Art Map

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