Pupils from Duncan Forbes Primary School will be visiting Culloden Drive today Thursday (8 October at 1.45pm) to see their designs brought to life by a chainsaw carver.
The giant statues being created by chainsaw sculptor Iain Chalmers, of North Kessock, are almost complete. They feature various mythical creatures and beings including a dragon, fairy, tree men, fawn and a mystery creature still to be announced! The pupils will be given a guided tour of the works by Highland Council Ranger John Orr and will be able to see the last of the carvings being completed.
This creative partnership was brought about when a tree survey of Culloden Drive carried out by Highland Council’s Planning and Development Service, who own the site, found that about 30 mature trees were in a potentially dangerous condition and needed to be felled.
The Planning and Development Service suggested to Smithton and Culloden Community Council that the income from timber sales could be used to make a very unusual and special feature for the community - and the idea of the sculptures was born. The community council has since added to the project from its own funds and has secured additional funding from Highland Council’s Culloden and Arderier Ward discretionary budget enabling the creation of seven delightful sculptures.
Local Highland Councillor for the Culloden and Ardersier Ward John Ford said: “This is a fantastic project bringing the school and community together to make the most of our beautiful natural environment within the Culloden Drive area. I congratulate the pupils on their magnificent designs and Iain Chalmers for bringing them to life in such a novel way with a chainsaw. Sadly, though there are elements among our community who vandalised the sculptures over the weekend. I would urge anyone with information to contact the Police at Inverness on 01463 715555 or contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.”
Countryside Ranger John Orr said: “Back in January Iain Chalmers, the sculptor, and I visited Primary 5 pupils at Duncan Forbes School to let them know about this exciting project. Since then the pupils have been using their art and design class time to come up with some stunning artwork. They have linked their creative thinking to their natural environment and have created a hugely popular local feature. The childrens’ ideas and designs have been amazing and I can’t wait for them to see the life-size carvings for themselves.”
Susan Morrison, P5 Class Teacher said: “We would like to thank John and Iain for all their hard work – the class has really enjoyed working with them and they have responded well to the challenges that were set for them.”
Sculptor Iain Chalmers said: “It was inspiring working with the pupils and seeing all the great ideas that they came up with. Narrowing down the choices for sculpting and interpreting the designs to fit with the shape of the trees has been a challenge but I’m very pleased with the result. There has been an ever increasing stream of visitors to watch the sculptures take shape - all with encouraging and appreciative comments.”
Community Councillor Dawn Coleman said “The new sculptures look fantastic, they really give Culloden Drive a new lease of life and I’m sure they will attract more visitors to the area. I think this whole project has helped to instil a sense of pride in our community; a lot of different people have to come together to make this a reality. I hope local people will take on a sense of ownership for these sculptures and help look after them for the future.”
As well as working in the classroom the children have been up to Culloden Drive to look at the woodland management and biodiversity of the area and they will be returning on Thurday to see their designs being sculpted by Iain.