Woodcarver defiant after £11k of items taken during Rossett workshop break-in


Staff reporter (Leader Live)

An internationally-renowned wood sculptor sounded a defiant message after a break-in at his workshop.

Chainsaws, attachments, bars and batteries worth £11,000 were taken from Simon O’Rourke’s workshop in Rossett the day before he was due to exhibit one of his works at the DragonFest event.

Simon, 39, said he was behind on his projects after the raid, which he discovered when he went to the workshop on April 1 to take a dragon sculpture to the event.

He said he had to put in extra hours in the evenings to catch up on his commissions and preparations for his first day as artist in residence at Erddig National Trust attraction on Tuesday. 

“I have got to keep my chin up,” he said.

“I’ve got to keep carrying on. It’s pointless letting it get me down; I would rather move on, forget about it and take measures to ensure that it does not happen again.” 

Simon said he was putting extra security measures in place, although he had been planning to do this before the thieves struck.

The artist said he felt “numb” after the burglary, in which 15 chainsaws were stolen.

“It was just disbelief that there’s people that seem to think that’s OK,” he said.

“When you don’t think like that yourself it’s always difficult to imagine why any other people seem to think its OK to take someone’s stuff.

“It was just a shock really, just completely unexpected,” he added.

“It caught me off guard.” 

Fortunately, Simon had three chainsaws being repaired at the time, and two have now been fixed.

He also thanked tree surgeons and others in the area who had loaned him saws, some of which he will use at Erddig, where he will be artist in residence for four days a month.

Of the public response, he said: “It feels great. It kind of restores my faith in humanity to know that people have got my back, with the amazing attention it got on social media as well.

“It was just brilliant to have so many encouraging messages.” 

The artist’s chainsaw carving exploits are known around the world.

He has competed at competitions in the USA, Japan, Canada, Holland, Germany, Denmark and the UK.

Later this year Simon will take part in the ARK event at Chester Cathedral, which runs from July to October and will feature works by artists including Damien Hirst and Sir Anthony Gormley.

In something of a first, he will work with both aluminium and wood to create a sculpture over the four Saturdays in August.

Simon and wife Liz will hold nature and junk sculpture workshops at the event every Friday in August.

The chainsaws have not been recovered and no arrests have been made, he said.

“It’s very difficult to find evidence in a workshop that’s dusty and things like that, and obviously the thieves knew exactly what they were doing and exactly what they were coming for.” 

All the 16 saws have Simon’s ‘S’ logo etched into them and most of the saws have one panel painted red with a small bat sticker on them.

Anyone with information can contact North Wales Police on 101.

See full story in the Chester Leader

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