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BSW Timber has been channelling its artistic streak after donating 30 logs to a rather unique competition – and Tilhill Forestry’s Pete Bowsher finished in second place for a second year running.
BSW’s Boat of Garten mill donated the logs to Carve Carrbridge, a nearby Scottish Open Chainsaw Carving competition that Pete takes part in every year.
Carve Carrbridge sees the top chainsaw carvers from across the globe competing to carve a work of art from Sitka Spruce in just four hours, wielding only chainsaws to produce their masterpieces.
German-born Michael Tamoszus claimed the top spot for a third consecutive year, but second place landed firmly at the feet of a member of the BSW family; Tilhill Forestry’s Harvesting Manager, and long-time Carve competitor, “Chainsaw Pete” Bowsher.
Pete explains how he fell in love with the unique sport: “In the early 1980s, at the start of my forestry career in Devon, I was harvesting timber in a felling squad for three years – mainly thinning Douglas fir.
“In 1985 I started a three-year OND forestry course at Newton Rigg in Cumbria. It was there that I saw a very basic chainsaw carving that someone had made, and I thought ‘I reckon that I can do that’… so I had a few attempts at it.
“This eventually led to me being asked to do my first public chainsaw carving demonstration at the Glasgow Garden Festival in 1988 and that then led to being asked to do other demonstrations at various galas, shows and fetes. The more I carved the better I got.
“That was back in the days before the internet; there were no websites and there was no Facebook, so I would hear about other chainsaw carvers and they would hear of me, but it would be years before I met another carver.
“Since those early days the popularity of chainsaw carving has grown and grown. Now there are carvers all over the country and strong networking between the carvers.”
The Carrbridge Scottish Open Chainsaw Carving competition, which is in its 17th year, has attracted chainsaw carvers from as far away as the United States and South America, as well as a large number of competitors coming from European nations such as Germany, Slovakia, Spain and Czech Republic.
Pete continued: “Carve Carrbridge was the first chainsaw carving event in Scotland and I would think also the UK. It has grown from six carvers to 24 and is now a well-established event which attracts international carvers.
“I have been involved with Carve Carrbridge since the beginning and have competed in all but one competition (Pete had a detached retina that year) and have won it eight times. I placed second last year and this year too.
“Coming up with the ideas is the hard part. I think about the ideas for nearly the whole year, trying to think up something original and different. With just four hours of carving time there isn’t much thinking time after the start whistle blows, so you have to know what you’re doing. It’s pretty intense and it still amazes me what we manage to achieve in just four hours.”
Despite his ‘Hillbilly Carver’ sculpture being pipped to the post this year, Pete has previously been named winner in eight of the last 13 years of Carve.
Pete continued: “I plan to compete again next year as it’s a bad habit now. My youngest son Sam, who is 21 now, competed for the first time this year – so I’ll have to carry on until he beats me.”
Sam has grown up surrounded by chainsaw carving, with the competition being an annual occurrence in the Bowsher household. Sam caught carving fever himself three years ago and a recent redundancy gave him the opportunity to take up chainsaw carving full-time. He also founded ‘Chip Off the Old Block Chainsaw Carving’, which is in reference to his dad’s reputation within the carving community.
Pete added: “The fun part is meeting carvers from around the world and developing friendships on the back of it, as well as being invited to other countries to compete. I have been lucky enough to have competed in Japan, Germany and USA.
“It’s a great sport. The difficult part is thinking of the ideas and of course the physical effort on the day, especially when the event is followed by a ceilidh as I’m nearly 60 now!”
Dave Mills, Mill Manager at BSW Boat of Garten, said: “We’re proud to be able to support Carve Carrbridge. It’s a fantastic local event and something that’s unique to the area. It’s not just about chainsaws either – the event raises over £15k annually for good local causes, so it’s a key event for many charities.”
Image: James Ross © / Carve Carrbridge ©
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