Sculpting the Mighty Oaks of Ickworth

John Williams Sculpture project

Since May 2016, volunteer John Williams has been creating masterpieces within the grounds of Ickworth. In his own words, John explains all, including how his love of Ickworth inspires his work.

Those of you who walk regularly in the Park may already have heard the “tap-tapping” of a distant wood carver, especially if you walk near the North garden of the Rotunda by the Geraldine and Erskine walks. That tapping was me, John Williams.  I carved the 'Josselyn and his Horse' on Eastgate Street in Bury St Edmunds. However that stump was pretty small compared with the 4 mighty oaks here at Ickworth!

Conventionally trees which need to be felled would have been cut to the ground and left but thinking is changing and Sean Reid, Outdoor Manager at Ickworth, was certainly being radical in his thinking when he suggested I might carve these huge stumps.

" My love of Ickworth began more than 60 years ago - I first visited Ickworth in the summer of 1948 as a wide eyed 7 year old."
- John Williams

By May 2016 I had an idea of what I wanted to do - The Rotunda itself is full of grand portraits all waiting, as I saw it, to be reworked and combined within in the natural wooded outdoors areas of the North Garden. Along with the more formal portraits, I will be personifying the Deities such as Fauna and Flora. These will based on Greek, Roman and local Medieval iconography.

John, wood carver at work at Ickworth

As the individual wood chips accumulated at the first tree's roots I knew that, in some very small way, I was already sustaining the ancient fauna and flora we see in the Park today. All generations of Herveys had encouraged and developed this distinctive Eco ethos which the National Trust, through its own staff and volunteers, continues today.

The project will take about 2 years to complete and during that time I look forward to meeting all who visit Ickworth as I work.

- John Williams, Sculptor