With generous funding from the Tesco Bags of Help scheme, Sheffield Town Trust and
the J G Graves Charitable Foundation we have been able to commission Sheffield based
sculptor, Jason Thomson to create a Storytelling Tree in the nursery grounds. After
a beautiful mature beech tree was removed for safety reasons, we were left with an
ugly stump. Tree felling in Sheffield is currently a divisive issue and we wanted
to make sure that the loss of the lovely old tree was compensated for by the creation
of something imaginative and interesting. Over the summer term Jason managed to create
some magical and beautiful carvings for the pleasure of our children, families and
the local community.
The tree now has a number of carved story telling elements. At the top there are
three baby owls, inspired by the popular book ‘Owl Babies’. Facing onto Broomhall
Road is a whimsical squirrel floating in an upturned umbrella. At the base of the
tree is a fairy tale stair case, intricately carved upwards to a number of small
doorways/hidey holes. These are perfect for ‘small world play’ enabling the children
to create their own stories with toy figures and animals climbing up and down the
stairs. In the centre of the tree are a number of fairy like characters; one flying
on a humming bird and another holding a flower, beside a fox.
Our children gained enormous pleasure from watching Jason at work. They couldn’t
wait to go out to the garden to play and engage Jason in conversation about the sculpture
and about working with wood. They enjoyed seeing the characters and creatures as
they emerged. Watching the process gave them knowledge and understanding about the
structure of the tree and the different textures and qualities of the wood, bark
and wood chip. Seeing how Jason handled the different tools inspired the children
in their own role play. Jason is a very engaging individual and it was wonderful
to see the children build their social skills and confidence, asking him questions
about his work.
The storytelling tree is sure to be a talking point for years to come.