Art For Everyone : Public Art Installations

Read about the whole point of "Looking Around London" at this link here.

Get started with my pictures and thoughts on the London Tree Trunk Tour here.

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

Monday, 28 November 2011

Pearson Panther

The Pearson Panther is located in the front yard of Lester B. Pearson School for the Arts. This carving is a stop on the original leg of Tourism London's Tree Trunk Tour. It is similar to The Learning Tree, and the CCH Crusader, as they are all located on school properties. While the other two carvings are at a secondary school, Pearson is an elementary school.

The class of 2008 at Pearson has dedicated this carving from themselves to the school. It has a large panther carved out of the back of the trunk, and it is leaning with its paws above a series of crests.

There are eight crests in total. Four of them symbolise the curriculum at Lester Pearson. It is a dedicated arts school, so there are four core artistic components. A palette and brush represent visual arts. A treble clef and note are for music. Theatre masks for theatrical performance, and ballet slippers for dance.

The other four crests represent plays that the graduating class performed in each during their time at the school.

They include Crown and Dagger, Shakespeare's 'The Tempest', and White Rabbit. Pictured are the shipwreck in 'The Tempest', and presumably the title character in 'White Rabbit'.

The panther itself is fully detailed throughout, including a coat of gloss black paint, and each individual white tooth shaped in his mouth. He could probably use a little tooth brushing, however.

I haven't made note of it in every instance, but not every trunk carved on the tour is the result of a conveniently placed dying or dead tree. The CCH Crusader is the example that comes to mind. When the tree isn't in the right place, there still might be a spot for the tree. A poured concrete pad for stability, and a metal post slid up into the core of the trunk, and you too, can have a permanent carving where there was no tree.

I do usually note any the signature and any damage to the tree at this point. The signature is low on the back of the trunk, and is the all capital RAW ART from Robbin Wenzoski. The date is 2008. In the nearly 4 years since completion, the surface details have had a lot of damage done to them, there are light and dark discolourations, and the stain has faded in many places. Happily, due to it being on a concrete pad, the main body of the tree should be free of rot. Its another example of a sculpture in need of a little TLC.

Overall, an interesting concept. I have found out, through my enquiries, that the design was a collaboration between the graduating and the artists, and as many ideas from the children were incorporated as was possible. Hundreds of people walk by this sculpture every day of the school year. They are the actual people that this carving represents, and I would hope that they would find the time and energy to return it to its original condition. The Panther is still an impressive sight.

Looking for more art like this? Well try these links -

Return to the Tree Trunk Tour Overview Page
Check out all the entries using the London Art Map  
Curious about this artist? Try Robbin's Links Page

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Full Circle Group Benefits "Moosehead"

The Full Circle Group Benefits' sponsored carving 'Moosehead' is located at 834 Van St. just a half a block east of Rectory in London. The carving is a little different than most of the others on London's Tree Trunk Tour. It isn't on a main street, or associated with a large institution. It was completed as a part of the partnership that created the other fifteen works on the tour.

It is a sculpture which is very straightforward in its execution, a lifelike, life sized carving of a moose's head, perched on the cleanly shaped and stained tree trunk bottom.

I was able to get in touch with the owner, Dave Broostad, and learned a lot about the carving. He is the owner of the property, and had a maple tree that he was going to have to cut down. In the fall of 2010, he researched the other trunks in London, and eventually was led to Robbin Wenzoski, who would end of carving this piece.

The Moose was chosen, according to Mr. Broostad, because he had just returned from a hunting trip, and it sprang to mind when Robbin asked him what he wanted on the tree. Due to the width of the antlers, it was necessary to carve the head out of a separate piece of wood, in this case, Black Walnut.

The trunk cuts quite and imposing profile on the street. And the blending is very smooth between the existing trunk and the add-on head. Being able to work on the head in the comfort of his workshop allows for much more precision in the final product.

Mr. Broostad also tells me that it has become a local landmark, neighbours referring to how many houses they are from 'the Moose' when giving directions.

The Moose is simple, but certainly stoic in his expression, and beautifully executed. The sculpture is in perfect condition, but it lacks Mr. Wenzoski's familiar signature.

This moose was also responsible for planting the seed of an idea. The idea of art being used to promote and identify a community has grown into what will become the Hamilton Road Tree Trunk tour. I will have more info on the growth of that project on this website in the near future.

Pride in a community can come from many different areas, good schools, well maintained streets and parks, and viable businesses among them. I would argue that having something unique and beautiful, available to everyone, is on that list too. Part of what I'm trying to do with this project is make sure that the attention stays with positive ideas like that, and these pieces in the community are not lost or forgotten.

Return to the Tree Trunk Tour Overview Page
Check out all the entries using the London Art Map  
Curious about this artist? Try Robbin's Links Page

Saturday, 19 November 2011

The Learning Tree

On the north side of the Catholic Central S.S. property is 'The Learning Tree'. This carving is one stop on the London Tourism sponsored Tree Trunk Tour. It is a visually dense creation, converting an old tree trunk into a nostalgic trip back to all of the most familiar elements of primary and secondary school.

The sculpture is a very short walk from three other Tree Trunk Tour stops. One block to the south an you can see 'CCH Crusader' and 'Shining Brightly'. One block east is 'Rising Up On Eagle's Wing's'. If you want one stop to see what kinds of things the tour has to offer, I would recommend this as a place to start.

Clicking on any of the pictures will display the full sized version.

Shall we begin our look at the interesting elements on this trunk? Remember, this is all done with power carving tools, mostly chainsaws. From the bottom, we have the alphabet and some crayons. There is a lot of painted on "spot colour", as with the crayons, and it does set the piece apart from some other carvings on the tour.

Another side of the trunk, reminding us of the values taught early in the school system. Love is also represented by the painted heart. Robbin Wenzoski created this work, and on his original website (which now has some technical issues with the pictures), he talked about deciding what elements of learning to include. He didn't leave out much.

The picture on the left shows the south side. I find it interesting that the natural burl in the tree has been left intact. This is also the spot for the official Tree Trunk Tour plug, with the sponsorship logo. The pic on the right shows the north side, where the title is displayed in the same font as the other lettering on the carving. Lots of school related bits are carved in around the two larger elements.

Moving up near the top of the tree trunk, we get a few add-on pieces. I think these really add to the dimension of the sculpture here, though I would suppose a purist may not appreciate wood not from the original tree. I am a practical person. This violin looks great.

And this microscope is my favorite bit. Imagine, going out to the workshop, firing up your machinery and sculpting out a microscope. Just thinking of that on a to do list makes me smile. 'Carve microscope out of wood block.'

The topmost add-on is a mortar board, and a diploma. Some really delicate looking work here to get the curl of the paper diploma.

The other message, delivered in the form of a rebus, is the artist asking the viewer to "Listen to your heart." Not a lesson on any school curriculum, but something that we might want to learn as early as possible in life.

The artist's signature is the block letter RAW ART logo, from Robbin Wenzoski, and the date (not pictured) is 2007. The overall condition of the carving is quite good, without any excessive cracking. The original stain has peeled off in a lot of places, and it may need maintenance in the near future.

There is a wise old owl atop 'The Learning Tree'. I didn't foresee how much looming he would be doing in this shot, but I present it as it was taken.

Looking for more art like this? Well try these links -

Return to the Tree Trunk Tour Overview Page
Check out all the entries using the London Art Map  
Curious about this artist? Try Robbin's Links Page

Friday, 11 November 2011

Mother Nature

Located at 326 Queens Av., west of Waterloo St. is the tree trunk carving 'Mother Nature'. Edit: It has come to my attention that this carving has been re-located to the London Tourism grounds on Wellington Road South. I suspect this was due to safety concerns about the integrity of the base. The London Tourism website tells us that the carving was done by Neil Cox. There are no indications of a specific sponsorship for this sculpture, though it does sit on property in front of Dr. Reavell dentistry and Willow Medi-Spa. It was carved from a trunk that had 2 large main branches, and we can start looking at it from the bottom up.

There are ears of corn and what looks like a squash or pumpkin tucked in behind them on the lower side. These are symbols of harvest time and nature's bounty. Through contact with the artist, I have found out that these plants were chosen because they were grown by native peoples.

On the rear of the trunk, there are large flowers carved in relief, including a bold and deeply petaled rose. I would interpret these as symbols of nature's beauty.

On the east side, there are maple leaves, perhaps to acknowledge the tree before it became a carving. These are done in low relief, and in more of a stylized way than other parts of this sculpture.

The top of the tree follows the natural split in the trunk, on the left, a path winds up to a Victorian style house. Take a look directly behind the carving if you are on Queens Av, and you will see the carved house matches its features exactly with the real house behind. There may not be a cat in the gable window of the real house, though.

 Curving up the left side are skyscrapers, as we symbolically progress from a natural,wild time, to the modern age in our city.

From behind, one skyscraper arcs wildly over to one side, but the attention to detail is wonderful, with windows and supports cut in all around the structure. 

On the right side of the split trunk, is Mother Nature herself. The peaceful expression on the face is wonderful. There is a natural look to her face, her flowing hair and her expression. There is a child seemingly rising out of the top of her head, arms raised to the sky.

Consider again, the delicate work accomplished without the shelter of a workshop, and the results become that much more impressive.


There is, in fact, a signature on the carving, which was small enough, and subtle enough that I missed it the first time I photographed this tree trunk. With apologies to Mr. Cox, here it is.

The result of combining the natural and the man-made might seem to set the carving up for a conflict between its elements, but in looking at the finished result, I think the message seems to be more about balance.

Now, as to the condition of the piece, it is certainly suffering from splitting and cracking at the upper portion. Aesthetically, some of the drama has faded from the sculpture, quite literally. The pictures taken shortly after completion on Tourism London's map show rich colour variations made by the artist scorching the surface of the wood with a propane torch. There is more depth and contrast created between elements when done right. By now the weather has washed away that dimension of the piece. Time will tell if any restoration occurs on this stop of the Tree Trunk Tour.

Looking for more art like this? Well try these links -

Neil Cox is also listed as the artist for 'Charles Smith Hyman' on this project.

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

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


Located at 462 Springbank Drive, east of Wonderland Rd, and west of Kernohan Parkway, is 'Springbank', another of the 15 stops on Tourism London's Tree Trunk Tour. It is located off the corner of the parking lot of the Springbank Garden Center.  Though it is not a large or overly ambitious sculpture, it is notable for being the extreme westernmost carving on the Tree Trunk Tour.

If you were planning on seeing all of the completed carvings in 2011, this one would be best done first or last, depending on your direction of approach. It is perhaps an eight or ten minute drive from its nearest companion tree, on Queens Av, so not a walking tour distance.

The tree fits with the garden theme of the business behind it. It has a large daisy on the top front surface. In the middle of the front is a massive sunflower. There is a really natural texture and flow to the petals here.

The sunflower has large detailed leaves coming off of its stem as well. This was a true chainsaw carving and a lot of the tool marks are still in evidence.

At the top of the tree are a clump of tulips, which are rougher than some of the other detailed pieces you can see around the rest of the tour, but they are not add-on pieces. There is no join of any kind, as they were a part of the original trunk here. This is a much more impressive feature when this is taken into account.

The signature confirms that this is another Robbin Wenzoski creation. Looks like he had some extra time for the signature on this one, with a very stylized logo, and a 2009 date as well. The tree trunk is in good condition, which is not all that remarkable, as it was completed less than 3 years ago.

I often finish an entry off at this point, but I have a little something extra with this carving. Click here for a bonus gallery of the creation of 'Springbank'.

Or, if you've seen enough of this tree, you can always-

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

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Charles Smith Hyman

In front of 246 Hyman St., in the middle of the block between Richmond and Wellington, is the Tree Trunk Tour carving 'Charles Smith Hyman'.
When I initially viewed the carving, the pictures I brought back made me believe that this entry would be a) short and b)reflect a disappointing sculpture. I am happy to say that, due to a meeting with Mike Harris of Tourism London, neither of those things is true anymore.
The reason for the disappointment on my first trip was the damage that had been done to this trunk. I wasn't sure if it was falling apart, but Tourism London believed it to be deliberate vandalism. There are 12 panels on the obelisk like structure. When I first saw it, three of the carved plaques were missing. You can see the middle right one in the picture above.

Here, on the side which faces west, there were two more missing pieces. I was, at the time quite put off by what I might report had happened to this work of art.

Happily, my conversation with Tourism London allowed me to discovered that repairs had been done by Neil Cox, the original artist. I had just missed the repair by a couple of weeks!

Today, the carving has been restored, and resealed with a darker stain, its formerly damaged sides look like this:

I think it is important that the stewardship of these pieces is a continuing effort on the part of those who own them. Outdoor art is much more easily damaged and lost than the museum pieces that most of us think about.

The replaced panels on the west facing side of this trunk are the most obvious in their symbolism.

At the bottom is a picture of the front of Idlewyld. This was C.S. Hyman's residence in London, built for him is 1878. The large mansion exists today, as Idelwyld Inn, a luxury 23 room hotel on Grand Av. The house has, at different times in its 133 year history, been converted to apartments, and a seniors home as well.

And in the middle is a picture of C.S. Hyman himself. He was a businessman, politician, and tennis player, among his many claims to fame. He was London born in 1854, and died in 1926. The link has more highlights of Hyman's life and role in London's history.

When first documenting this carving, I had quite a puzzle on my hands. I had 7 symbols that I didn't have any background information on. I did not know what part of Hyman St. or C.S. Hyman's life it might tie into. they varied in style, but I was presented with shapes like this:
 Once again, I have Mike Harris of Tourism London to thank for giving me the hint I needed. If you are standing on the street facing north, look at the house to the right and behind. At the top of the roof, you will see this:

 Now I get where the designs have been drawn from. Victorian era homes usually had architectural details that were specific to certain builders and craftsmen. The supports for the eaves, and details on roof lines and door frames were up to the carpenter who finished these elements off, meaning every house had a unique twist to it. The carving celebrates design bits from several nearby houses.

Just behind and slightly to the right we have this:

If you face south, the house directly opposite has this peaked roof detail:

 Across the street and one house to the west, in the middle of the front steps:

 And roof supports on the nearest house on the north side of the street.

 These representations appear on the trunk:

Once the concept becomes clear, the artwork makes more sense. In context, the carving is inseparable from the place where it stands, reflecting the neighbourhood around it in an almost literal way.

Which leaves me with only one unanswered question. What does this represent?

It is the one panel that I cannot see in the houses around, nor recognize enough to tie to London or C.S. Hyman.

The Tree Trunk tour map tells us that Neil Cox was the artist, but I did not see a signature on this trunk. It is quite different from most of the others, as all the detailed elements were completed in a workshop and brought to the site afterwards. There is the official tour logo plug inserted at the base of the structure. I would have to say that the overall condition is quite good, which would be expected with repairs being completed on the whole thing in the last few weeks. This carving certainly provides an interesting opportunity to think about the differences in theme and technique that can come into the same realm as the Robbin Wenzoski creations we have looked at so far.

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