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Sculpture adds interest to lake

PUBLISHED: 22:00 24 November 2001 | UPDATED: 10:54 03 March 2010

You'd expect paintbrushes, delicate chisels and palette knives to be found in the hands of an artist.

But a chainsaw? Yet that's exactly what Suffolk sculptor Ben Platts-Mills used to create an eye-catching new work of art that will watch over Needham Lake, near Needham Market.

You'd expect paintbrushes, delicate chisels and palette knives to be found in the hands of an artist.

But a chainsaw? Yet that's exactly what Suffolk sculptor Ben Platts-Mills used to create an eye-catching new work of art that will watch over Needham Lake, near Needham Market.

And he even attested to the delicate touch of his unusual instrument that carved an oak sculpture of a mother, a child and a goose.

"You can achieve a delicacy with a chainsaw that you can't with chisels," said the 53-year-old from Eye. "People are a lovely form to do anyway and if you want to alter things slightly, it is very easy. It's just like planing away with a chainsaw."

In six weeks, he carved the piece out of a oak tree trunk following a commission and funding from Mid Suffolk District Council's Countryside and Arts Service, who wanted a piece to symbolise the link between people and the natural environment.

As Canada geese looked on, he also explained away the presence of the goose as a handy way of stabilising the piece.

"The loose hand would be rather vulnerable," he said.

Examples of Mr Platts-Mills' other work stand in several locations across the county, in particular at Eye where he is responsible for the Michael's Gate wooden arch and a picnic table and radial seats carved out of the same block of wood.

But as an environmental artist, who has worked in the very elemental mediums of rock, earth and water, he redesigned the 14-acre Eye Town Moors after the devastation caused by the 1987 storms.

He is currently working on a project to resurrect – in sculpture form at least – Hoxnean Man on a footpath near Eye for MSDC as well as a huge dragon, both wrought from wood.

Unveiling the new addition to Needham Lake, leader of the council Penny Otton, who is a leading committee member on arts bodies across East Anglia, said: "I think it's absolutely delightful piece. It epitomises how arts can be part of the environment," adding that it was the type of exercise that encourages investment and support for the arts in the region.

Arts are worth around £2.6bn in income to the Eastern region, she said.

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