Paul Sivell is a self-taught artist from the Isle of Wight who specialises in wood sculpture. He often works from condemned, dead or dying trees. He is particularly keen to work on gnarled or twisted trees and recycle them rather than simply allow them to rot, be burned or even dumped in landfill. For this reason he considers himself an environmental artist and his work is often inspired by nature itself. He is also keen to reflect local traditions and mythology in his pieces.
Paul’s working background is in forestry, arboriculture and countryside management. He started experimenting with wood sculpture in the 1980’s and interest in his work gradually increased with his first public sculptures about 15 years ago. He has since established a reputation for providing top quality wood sculptures and has received a steady number of public and private commissions. His work is now on open display across the United Kingdom and as far afield as America and Southern Turkey.
The Island Games Association (IW) awarded Paul the commission to make the sculpture for the Water Ceremony at the NatWest Island Games in 2011. It was the focal point of the opening ceremony where a representative from each of the participating islands poured water into the copper bowl on top of the sculpture. His success led to him becoming a full time sculptor in 2003 and he has started expanding his repertoire to include metalwork. However, his main love is for wood sculptures and he is always interested in creating something special out of a discarded stump or fallen tree. Typically, a client will contact Paul with details of their requirements and he will put together an initial design for the customer’s approval.
If the site is close enough, Paul will pay the customer a visit and assess the site and the tree or stump in question. It may be a lopped tree that the customer would like recycled into the form of a favourite animal or it could be something more precise such as a personal memorial. Once agreement has been made with the customer, Paul will make the necessary arrangements for work to begin.
In the case of a large stump, the first task is to remove the outer bark with a chainsaw and draw a rough outline of the design. A more precise carving, again with a chainsaw with a special carving bar, then cuts away all of the excess wood so that Paul has a basic shape upon which to work. He then uses a variety of power sanding tools and carving chisels to work in the detail, usually starting at the head and working his way down. If you wish to learn more about his sculptures and see further examples you can visit The Carved Tree.