Painter, Carver & Willow Weaver
© Nicki McLean 2015
Bog Oak is a 'direct and tactile link with our past' great tree forests grew around 400 years before Stonehenge was built. It is wood from trees which have been buried and preserved in peat bogs by the anaerobic conditions, the oak represents the early stages of fossilisation. As rising sea levels flooded the East Anglia basin the trees would have died and fallen, only the trees which fell directly into the bog remain, the top layer of trees left to the open air would have deteriorated and disappeared eventually. Although the generic term is Oak they can also include species such as Yew, Pine or cypress.
The process is slow but fascinating, unforeseen fissures, gaps, holes crevices appear, then once cleaned of the debris, I carve steadily to enhance the appearance of the piece. Each takes on it's own character, it feels wonderful to be working on something that is so ancient and which may have had the hands of our ancient ancestors touching it. This way of working feels to me, like a ritual, like a journey through time as if I am connecting with the wood. I have never yet made a representational piece but there are some excellent bog oak carvers who do, particularly in Ireland. My pieces are left in their natural form.