Old oak tree turned into new art display in Lombardy Park

Old tree becomes new art

If you passed by Kelowna's Lombardy Park this week you may have noticed something different.

"It's a tree that's been taken out. They left a 10-foot stump and this guy rolled up and carved this incredible owl into it. The detail is mind-boggling. I don't even think the pictures do it justice," said Rob McInnes.

Castanet caught up with the artist Kamron Garbe, who did the work using a chainsaw all in one day on Sept. 18.

"I set up there at eight o'clock and I was carving by nine and I was home by six. Chainsaws make for quick work when you know what you're doing with them," Garbe said.

The artist originally hails from Saskatchewan but he calls Kelowna home now.

"I've been carving full-time for almost a year and a half now. I was a woodworker before I started carving full time and I've been working with wood for most of my life," says Garbe.

Garbe says he was contacted by the City of Kelowna who had heard of his work through the grapevine, "the oak tree was at the end of its lifespan, the city followed through and commissioned me to try to give that stump a second life and bring back some beauty to it."

Garbe says the money he was paid for the work was nominal, but he wanted to do the job to prevent the tree from becoming just firewood.

Now the eyesore has become a thing of beauty and an inspiration for people like McInnes, "I'm trying to drum up some support because I live in the area. Hopefully, the city will put a fence up or something to protect it."

Garbe has made several suggestions on the best way to preserve the art piece which is now part of the tree.

"The tree could be treated but there's also the option of removing it and then re-attaching it to the stump so it actually stops leeching moisture from the ground. As long as it's rooted, you've got about 15-20 years before it's rotting from the inside," said Garbe.

This is the first time Garbe has done a public art piece, but he hopes it won't be the last.

"I hope it's received well. I'd love to be able to do more projects like that moving forward. Because I mean, especially in urban forestry, you know, the lifespan of these trees is definitely a lot shorter than they would be in a forest. So it's just a matter of time till they start going. And I think even just my time spent in Lombardy Park, it seems incredibly well received, and people are glad to see something being done with the tree."

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