MICHAEL Street in Peel is looking conspicuously more arty recently, as chainsaw sculptor Nick Barlow’s wooden creations have been put on display in a shop window.
Nick has moved a selection of his work into the unit – formally occupied by Maddrell’s fish shop – for the browsing pleasure of the public, with a view to selling pieces upon request.
The ‘shop’ is not open as such, it merely serves as a display for some of the sculptures that have earned Nick a growing reputation around the island, notably for the ‘Fenella’ figure that now overlooks Peel’s Fenella beach.
There are no set prices, and Nick’s contact details are displayed in the shop to negotiate sales.
His primary focus remains his tree surgery business, which keeps him busy enough not to have much time to run a side-business in retail, but when the opportunity came up to fill the empty shop after town commissioners requested it be smartened up, he saw that it was a good one and this year he has managed to earn as much by carving as through tree surgery.
Previously, most of his work has been commissioned for other people, with them often liking to oversee the project.
The shop is his chance to work to his own schedule, doing more abstract art. He said: ‘I’ve always wanted to knock things up out of driftwood. It’s nice to trawl hidden beaches for material. The flip-side of that, though, is to making things that will sell, like benches, or wizards. People seem to like wizards.’
The reaction so far has been positive, with lots of people stopping, looking and asking questions, and with pieces selling faster than Nick has time to carve new ones.
A chainsaw sculpture takes days to complete, and with tree surgery and commissioned art, Nick has been working seven-day weeks for the last month. When Examiner West News spoke to him, he had just climbed down from spending the whole day at the very top of a 65ft tree.
Would he like to calm down and focus on one or the other, art or tree surgery?
‘It would be great to carve full time,’ he reflects. ‘But I’ve spent three years building up the tree surgery business, I got into the Best Business Guide this year and I love doing it.’
For now, then, as he juggles his time, the shop side of things will develop gradually, though his display has already become a welcome fixture in Michael Street.
Nick added: ‘The shop looks better at night. We have the lights off during the day and on at night. Lots of people walk in the evening in Peel and it stands out.’