THE decaying husk of a century-old tree is being transformed in the most dramatic fashion.
Chainsaw sculptor Chris Bain is carving the 120-year-old Monterey pine, in Staunton Country Park, into a dragon emerging from a tower.
It is just weeks away from completion and will form the start of a wildlife trail which will eventually run all the way from the Havant country park to Butser.
Mr Bain said: ‘The tree was quite badly decayed and had to come down.
‘I put forward an idea to do something with it, something different.
‘Staunton gave me the go-ahead then left me to my own devices.
‘The ideas have come to me as I’ve been cutting, there was no design beforehand.
‘The tower came first, then I put a door in there and cut in a few other features around the tower, which I think the children will love searching for.’
Mr Bain trains people to use all sorts of machinery and has a base at Staunton.
But three years ago he turned his hobby of chainsaw carving into part of his business.
It has been a huge success.
The sculpture has such a high level of detail that visitors can see brickwork taking shape and broken bricks where the tail is emerging at the back.
He said: ‘When I look at things, I think “what can I put in there, how can I make it magical and mythical?”.’
Lulu Bowerman organises the Water Festival held at Staunton each year.
She said: ‘I came across it on a beautiful day, with a clear blue sky and the dragon emerging from the castle tower looked absolutely spectacular.
‘It’s stopped a lot of people in their tracks.
‘I don’t know many people who would be brave enough to get into a cherry picker carrying a chainsaw to start carving.
‘Chris is truly a master craftsman.
‘And the wonderful thing is that it is going to generate a lot of interest in Staunton.’
Mr Bain is going to make benches and a picnic area to go around the sculpture, which is at the left-hand side of the entrance to the country park.
Once the trail is finished families will be able to follow it all the way from Staunton, in Middle Park Way, to Butser.
To find out more about Mr Bain’s work go to his website at forestrycrafts.co.uk.