The intricate art of wood carving, told by some of Lincolnshire’s finest

In the world of art, where creativity knows no bounds, chainsaw wood sculpting stands out as a thrilling blend of danger and beauty. Imagine wielding a roaring chainsaw, not to fell trees, but to carve them into stunning works of art. This is not your average hobby; it’s an adrenaline-fueled artistic adventure that dates back to the 1950s.

Chainsaw sculpting transforms ordinary wood into extraordinary masterpieces, pushing the limits of what’s possible with a tool more commonly associated with lumberjacking. But this is no rough-and-tumble trade; it’s a craft requiring precision, skill, and a steady hand, where the risk only heightens the allure.

We delved into this fascinating world by chatting with two seasoned chainsaw artists from Lincolnshire. They shared their journeys into this unique art form, revealing what drives their passion for transforming rugged wood into intricate sculptures, all with the hum of a chainsaw as their soundtrack.

Christian Andreolli: A labour of love and a desire for creativity

Christian pictured here with a finished product. Photo: Christian Andreolli

If you have been around Lincolnshire enough in the last half a decade, there is a good chance you have gone past a wood sculpture from Christian Andreolli, a 58-year-old artist who has been involved in creative mediums for over 30 years.

His father, a carpenter from the north of Italy, helped instil his passion for nature and wood design from a young age, coming from an area where wood carvers are known for making holy statues.

“I always grew up with a bond to nature,” he recalls. “My father would take myself and my brothers mushroom hunting in the forest as children, and we always say my talents grew from his roots as a carpenter. It is all connected in a way.”

He moved to Lincolnshire five years ago, after falling in love in Mauritius and moving here with his partner. “She’s the reason I am here in Lincolnshire,” he says with a smile on his face.

The home owner wanted to do something with what remained of a diseased tree, and Christian duly obliged.

Since then, Christian has created numerous pieces across the county, including his first ever wood carving — an eight-metre high masterpiece outside a house on the corner of Wragby and Greetwell Road in Lincoln.

As well as this, he has crafted a 3.2 metre high bear carved out of a ten tonne tree trunk, which can be found at Wolds Wildlife Park in Horncastle, stunning bear and tiger sculptures at Woodside Wildlife Park, and the magnificent Garden of Eden at the Adam & Eve pub in Wragby.

The star attraction of this is the gigantic couple piece in the pub beer garden, standing 4.5 metres high out of the ground and a further 1.5m below the surface.

Christian designed the entirety of the Adam & Eve beer garden around the pub’s name, hence the Garden of Eden inspiration. Photo: The Lincolnite

Christian dedicated weeks to this huge sculpture, which can be found in the Adam & Eve beer garden in Wragby. Photo: The Lincolnite

But what is it about carving wood that excites Christian? Well, in his words: “It’s all about shaping.”

“I’ve always had the feeling to shape and to create, even if it was with clay or with paint, I can see the shapes and designs in the material before I have made them. The exciting part is that every piece is different.

“This five year journey I have been on was never part of a long term plan or anything like that, but I love making people happy, it’s a big motivation for me.”

Some sculptures can take up to six weeks to complete, and Christian says it is about “taking parts of the cake each day” as you take layers away, as well as absorbing the information and wants of a client to make sure their vision is brought to life.

Photo: Christian Andreolli

After years of wood carving, Christian is looking to explore other creative ventures, admitting that it has taken its toll on his health.

“I want to come away from the sawdust, but it’s more than just that. When a big tree falls there is always a reason, which tends to be a disease, and when you breathe in the fungi and the sawdust it can have an impact. It’s very hard to protect yourself eight hours a day from this.

“I’m trying to find a balance now, which is hard when you’ve become known for this. It’s also hard because I long for the shaping of these wood sculptures, I miss it every day I don’t do it! It’s not just about carving the wood, it’s the entire design process that excites me.”

His next chapter, if you will, is children’s books. The Little Fairy Alice & The Soothergnomes 1 and 2 are available to buy from his website, with each sale coming with a pledge to plant a tree in England, as Christian looks to “give back to nature, especially here in Lincolnshire.”

Kieran Pears: Rekindling his passion after a hiatus

Kieran Pears took a 3-4 year break from wood carving to focus on his mental health, and he’s now back doing what he loves. Photo: The Lincolnite

Becoming self-taught at anything is difficult, but learning how to control a heavy chainsaw and mould a tree trunk into a beautiful design by watching YouTube videos is surely one of the toughest hobbies you can find. For Kieran Pears, though, it has become a reality.

The 32-year-old first became fascinated by the world of wood sculptures around eight years ago, seeing pieces at country shows, and says the artistry of it combined with the “loud noises” of engines and motorbikes, sparked a love of “countryside creativity” inside him.

“I love the countryside,” he says. “I grew up in Revesby, which has about five houses within miles of each other, so we just built dens and entertained ourselves as kids — but now I’m older and I’m allowed to use a chainsaw!

“My skill has developed through trial and error really I was looking at other people’s work and thinking about carvings regularly, the step by step process is so crucial, as you search for that lightbulb moment.

“You can feel yourself getting better and better with each piece, and I never realised how many ways you could use a chainsaw!”

“I never realised how many ways you could use a chainsaw!” Photo: The Lincolnite

Photo: The Lincolnite

He describes it as a “reverse form of art” due to the process of removing parts of a tree to make something, as opposed to a painting where you add to the canvas, but that final product is what he does it for.

“I lose track of time and get totally fixated on a project. To watch something come out of absolutely nothing, after spending hours on it, is such a great feeling. It has turned me into a perfectionist, if something is out of place I will have to fix it because it will bug me.

“I am the hardest person to please when it comes to my own work, so it’s a bit of a catch 22.”

Kieran with one of his latest pieces, an impressive kingfisher carving. Photo: The Lincolnite

Photo: The Lincolnite

Kieran is back doing what he loves after a break of around three or four years, which he said was a result of “not being in a great mental head space.” This limited his ability to make the best designs possible, saying: “I can’t create if I’m not in a good head space, so I took a step away from it all.”

His most recent works are up at Tetford Country Cottages, and they are a large carp fish and an elegant kingfisher sculpture, both standing on perches a stone’s throw from one another.

Kieran told us the key motivating factor for him is the idea of “creating something that will outlive me,” saying proudly that it’s “almost like leaving a legacy behind.”

“I have a young daughter and it’s nice to think that my family will be proud of what I’ve done. I’m not a huge people person really, but as long as the customers and my family are happy, then so am I.”

To check out more of Kieran's work, visit his KP Carving Facebook page.