"Midnight the Owl" Tree Sculpture

Midnight the Owl

Sadly the Tree Sculpture loved by local children had to be removed in 2019 due to decay but here's the story of its creation

We hope to use it as inspiration for a new project when the world gets back to normal

In December 2006 the Friends were keen to develop a positive outcome after the demise of a large Copper Beech tree and arranged for sculptor Andrew Frost to provide them with a design using a nature and knowledge theme featuring animals and books. Local schools were consulted and children submitted ideas for the design and chose a name for the central owl character.

Over £3,000 worth of funding was raised, allowing Andrew to begin work at the Marple Locks Festival in July 2007. The main sculpture was completed later that summer and the ground sculptures soon after. Installation was delayed until the summer of 2008, when a joint launch with the Breathing Places Reading Circle behind the library was held in September 2008.

Tree Sculpture Update 07 August 2008

Thursday 7th August was definitely a tree sculpture day. As well as our new sculpture in the Breathing Places area installed by Myers Tree Care Ltd today, we also had an abundance of green Stockport Council shirts in the park installing the ground sculptures around the original tree sculpture. In fact, there were so many green shirts in attendance that one passer-by asked if they were installing a light bulb. But there wasn't enough of them for that!

What did happen is that five of the seven ground sculptures created by Andrew Frost several months ago were finally installed. The Parks and Recreation Team may have taken their time to get around to it but they certainly made a great job of it when they finally got started. So thanks to Adrian, Dave, Mark and Paul, and here are some photos taken today, plus one from Story Time during the BBC Breathing Places Reading Circle launch on 14 September 2008:

We still have two sculptures to install in the children's play area. These are an apple and a pear but unfortunately the apple was stolen from Brabyns Depot earlier this year. Thankfully Andrew Frost has agreed to replace it free of charge and we hope to receive the replacement soon.

Press release and photos

On 15 August 2007 the Friends of the Park were joined by Councillor Shan Alexander (Executive Member for Leisure) to celebrate completion of the main sculpture. The following press release was issued by the council accompanied by the photos shown below:


Have you ever seen an owl up close? Well now's your chance to come to Marple Memorial Park and view a hand-carved wooden sculpture of an owl. As well as being able to see the wooden owl called Midnight, visitors will be able to see other hand carved animals including a fox, badger, mole, squirrel and a hedgehog.

All the sculptures have been carved from the remains of a Copper Beech tree by local sculptor Andrew Frost. Andrew has also created a similar piece in Etherow Country Park and Nature Reserve.

Andrew was commissioned to do the sculpture in July by the Friends of Marple Memorial Park, who were keen to seek a positive outcome from the tree's unfortunate demise after it was found to be unsafe. Stockport Council's Marple Area Committee, the Marple District Regeneration Partnership and a Voluntary Arts Grant from the Council helped the Friends of group fund the project.

Bad weather in July caused the work on the sculpture to be delayed but Andrew has recently finished carving the main trunk of the tree. However, the project is still not quite finished and he will return in September to complete a series of ground sculptures that will be created from the boughs of the tree.

Local children were involved in the project when they were consulted through local schools and Marple Library. They were asked to vote for the owl's name and for their favourite creatures to be included in the design. The children also submitted nearly 500 drawings and designs for the ground sculptures that will be scattered in front of the wooden owl. The drawings and designs can all be viewed in the children's area at Marple Library.

Councillor Shan Alexander, Executive Member for Leisure, said: "This is a very impressive sculpture and the artist, Andrew Frost, must be congratulated on his work. I would encourage local people to come along to see the sculpture and enjoy Marple Memorial Park, one of eight green flag parks within Stockport."

The Friends of Marple Memorial Park hold Task Days on the last Saturday of each month and meet once each month on a Monday night, from 6.30pm, at Marple Library. For more information about the Friends of group visit their notice board in the park, which will have details of their next meeting, or visit their web site at www.marplememorialpark.org.uk.

Andrew Frost's work can be viewed at www.treeart.co.uk


Main Sculpture Finished

Andrew has now finished the tree sculpture itself and we have a series of photographs taken as the work progressed below. Thank you to John Connors who provided many of these. The sculpture has currently been stained and oiled. It still has a few more coats to be applied but we hope you agree it's looking fantastic already.

Andrew has been delayed by the weather so much that he has run into problems with a backlog of work building up and has to undertake another project with a tight deadline before returning to create our ground sculptures from the remaining boughs of the tree. We look forward to his return to our park to put the final touches to the excellent work he has already done.

Tree Sculpture started at Locks Festival

The Locks Festival was blessed with just about the only sunshine we seem to have had for the last month, in between the downpours of course! Thankfully this meant that Andrew was able to make a belated start to the project and it was certainly worth waiting for. Everyone we spoke to on the day was amazed at how incredible the sculpture looked and they were very excited about seeing the work progress. Unfortunately the appalling weather has continued to cause delays and Andrew has been unable to return this week. Hopefully he will be back to continue soon and is currently expected on Monday 9th July, weather permitting of course. The following photographs show the fantastic progress made during the Locks Festival and we hope to be bringing you more soon. Isn't it incredible how much like the original sketch it looks!

As those of you who saw the sculpture the day after the Locks Festival will know, sadly it was vandalised within 24 hours of work starting by someone who decided to spray it with black paint. Thankfully it was not burnt as reported in the Stockport Express and it looks like the paint will clean off reasonably well. We can only hope it will not be subjected to further attacks and the pleasure brought to so many people in Marple, especially the young children who have already taken Midnight the Owl to their hearts, will not be ruined by an ignorant minority.

Work to start at Locks Festival!

Well it's still technically week commencing 25th June but only just! Unfortunately Andrew has been delayed on his previous job due to the awful weather last week and this week but has now confirmed that he will start on Sunday 1st July during the Locks Festival. Lets hope that the weather is kinder to us over the weekend than it has been for the last two weeks.

The drawings and designs produced by local school children will available to view in the Marple Website tent during the Locks Festival itself and will then go back to Marple Library early next week, when we hope they will be put on display while Andrew continues his work. We've had a few more and are now up to 475!

The Friends of the Park will also be holding a tombola in the Marple Website tent to raise funds so we hope you will come along and say hello.

Work to start week commencing 25th June!

Tree SculptureThe Friends of the Park are pleased to announce that we've had a fantastic response to our consultation about the Tree Sculpture design. It has obviously caught the imagination of local school children as we've had nearly 140 different names suggested for the owl. Some some of them were quite unusual like "The Owl What Makes Your Dreams Come True!" but the most popular by far was "Midnight" with 51 out of almost 340 votes.

Nearly 920 votes were cast for the most popular creatures to join Midnight in the Tree Sculpture. Heading the huge variety of native and exotic species was the squirrel with exactly 200 votes. Runner up was the hedgehog, followed by the fox, the badger, a variety of birds led by the Robin, then butterflies, mice, rabbits and bats. We hope that these will all be able to feature in the final design produced by chainsaw artist Andrew Frost when he carries out the work. We had some great suggestions too, like including a family of bookworms, a bird's nest with baby birds and eggs and even to include holes for real birds to nest in the remains of the tree. All of these ideas will be passed on to Andrew to consider.

We have also had more than 430 drawings and designs from local school children to inspire Andrew when he is creating the ground sculptures from the boughs of the tree. There are more detail of the drawing and consultation results below and we would like to thank all the children, and their teachers, for showing such enthusiasm for our project. It is planned to put as many of the drawings and designs as possible on display in Marple Library while the work is going on.

Andrew is due to start the sculpture during week commencing Monday 25th June and you will be able to come and watch him at work in the park. We also hope that he will be there during the Locks Festival on Sunday 1st July, when we expect his work in progress to a attract a large audience and a great deal of attention.

Check back on the web site nearer the time to confirm the exact date that Andrew will start and we look forward to seeing you there!

Tree Sculpture Consultation (ended May 2007) 

As outlined above, we've had a superb response from local children to our consultation on the design of the Tree Sculpture in Marple Memorial Park. 137 different names were suggested for the wise owl, who is central to the sculpture's "Nature and Knowledge" theme. The top 24 names that received more than one vote each were:

Name Votes Name Votes Name Votes Name Votes
Midnight 51 Oswald 5 Brabus 2 Mrs Barton 2
Harry 32 Ollie / Olly 5 Browny / Tawny 2 Old Brown 2
Wizzy 32 Hedwig 4 Fifi 2 Old Know-it-all 2
Poppy 30 Albert Owl 3 Hooty 2 Twit woo 2
Miles 19 Oldknow 3 Merlin 2 Wisey 2
Hector 13 Wilbert 3 Mr Wise Owl 2 Woody 2

Forty three different types of creature suggested to accompany "Midnight" the Owl in the tree sculpture received 919 votes between them. The top 20 most popular were:

Creature Votes Creature Votes
Squirrel 200 Mole 21
Hedghog 172 Boar 19
Fox 86 Dog 17
Badger 82 Horse 16
Birds 73 Cat 11
Butterfly 36 Duck 6
Mouse 35 Worm / millipede 6
Rabbit 34 Frog 5
Bat 27 Snake 5
Wolf 22 Deer 4

In addition to suggesting a name for the owl and voting for their favourite creatures the children were asked to submit drawings and designs for the smaller ground sculptures that Andrew will create from the boughs of the tree. We were almost overwhelmed by the response to this with a fantastic 432 submissions with some wonderful ideas for Andrew to draw inspiration from. Twenty of the most colourful and suitable for including on the Internet are shown down the left hand side of the page but we hope that a much larger display of these will be hosted in Marple Library while the work is underway. We also hope that Marple Library will be prepared to retain the folders containing all the drawings indefinitely, so that people can continue to view the designs for years to come after the sculpture is finished.

Tree Sculpture Update 15 April 2007

More fantastic news as the Marple District Centre Partnership come to the project's aid with a £1,000 donation towards the Tree Sculpture. Brian Nash, Stockport Council's District & Local Centres Regeneration Manager, has provided us with the following statement: 

Marple Regeneration Partnership was established by Stockport Council in 2002 as part of the Strategy for the District Centres. One of the key achievements of the Strategy has been its approach to the development and encouragement of increased 'ownership' of issues by local stakeholders including businesses, residents and local interest groups. This has led in to a significant increase in local private sector involvement, engagement and participation in District Centre activities with the key aim to ensure that Marple retains a viable and vital role within the economic, social and environmental fabric of the Borough. Successful projects include the Refurbishment of Market Street/Derby Way, environmental improvements at The Hollins, dramatic festive decorations and events, promotional banners and Derby Street Car Park refurbishment.

The Partnership is pleased to support the activities of the Friends of Memorial Park as we recognise the important contribution the Park makes to making Marple an attractive place to shop, work, live and visit.

This importance was reinforced with the allocation of major resources to create a much improved entrance from Stockport Road. The project provided high quality materials including paving and street lighting to that gave the Park an entrance worthy of the status within Marple.

The Partnership participates and supports a number of local initiatives that all involve the use and development of the Park, ranging from Task Days to the hugely successful Marple Carnival and Marple Locks Festival. The Park is undoubtedly a central focus of Marple life and the local businesses in the shopping centre can all benefit from this valuable asset.

So a big thank you to the District Centre Partnership for their generous support. This donation takes us to a total of £3,000, which is within striking distance of our target and will ensure that the project can go ahead. Keep watching this space for more progress and to get involved in the consultation process, which we will be starting soon.

Of course if you can help us with a final push to reach our funding target of £3,358 do please get in touch with Mark Whittaker on 427 4955.

Tree Sculpture Update 30 March 2007

The great news is that as well as receiving a cheque for £1,000 from Marple Area Committee today, we also learnt that the Friends' application for a Stockport Voluntary Arts Grant has been successful and another £1,000 will soon be on its way. This means that we have raised approximately 60% of the £3,358 estimated to be required to complete the whole project and now need to find just over £1,300.

Tree Sculpture Update 25 March 2007

Our story made the local papers last week, with the article below appearing in the Stockport Express on Wednesday 21st March. We have also submitted an application for a Stockport Voluntary Arts Grant towards the cost of creating the sculptures. We should learn the outcome of this application in a few weeks time. In addition, the large boughs have been removed and laid on the ground near the trunk in preparation for the work to start once we have managed to raise the rest of the funds required.

Newspaper cutting

 Tree Sculpture in Memorial Park

Newspaper cuttingIn December 2006 there were strong protests as work began to fell the large Copper Beech tree in the park between the Bowling Green and the Council's offices.

Due to poor communication protesters believed that the tree was being felled simply to allow scaffolding to be erected for repairs to the offices. Unbeknown to them a survey of the tree earlier in the year (following a request for it to be trimmed back for the scaffold) had revealed it to be in a dangerous condition.

The Friends of the Park were disappointed not to learn about the plans to fell the tree before the work was started but after being briefed about the tree's condition by council representatives it was agreed to support the decision to remove it on safety grounds.

As a result of the protests work was stopped until the situation could be reviewed by Marple's Area Committee, who, after being briefed at their meeting in January 2007, reluctantly gave approval for the felling to be completed.

Since learning about this the Friends of the Park have been keen to try and develop a positive outcome from the tree's unfortunate demise and through the Parks and Recreation Team it was arranged to leave the main trunk in place so that its suitability for a sculpture similar to the Etherow Owl at Compstall could be assessed.Remains of Copper Beech

In February the remains of the tree were examined by Andrew Frost, sculptor of the Etherow Owl, and he confirmed that it would be possible to do this. Andrew gave a quotation to carry out the work and provided the Friends with a sketch of a preliminary design using a nature and knowledge theme that features animals and books.

The cost of the sculpture will be £2,000 to carve the main trunk and a further £1,000 to create a minimum of six ground sculptures using the boughs of the tree. There will also be additional costs for preservative materials and for fixing the ground sculptures if they can be afforded in the final scheme. The Friends also propose to include a plaque explaining how the sculpture was funded, which will add a little to the total cost.

On 7th March 2007 the Friends presented the design to Marple Area Committee and applied for a Kick-Start Grant to help pay for the work. The Committee were very positive about the idea to use the remains of the tree in this way and generously agreed to contribute £1,000 toward the project.

The Friends now need help to raise at least another £1,000 towards the cost of this project, enabling the trunk to be carved, and hopefully enough to pay for the ground sculptures too. So if you feel you may be able to help, either as an individual or as a representative of a local organisation or business, then please get in touch with Mark Whittaker on 427 4955.

Andrew Frost's preliminary design for the tree in Marple Memorial Park: