Branching out

Chris Townsend rdMany of you will have seen those wonderful steel tree sculptures in prominent places in the Wychwoods and wondered where the inspiration for them came; it came from local artist and sculptor Chris Townsend who lives in Leafield with his wife Emma and boys Archie and Charlie.

Chris was brought up in Green Lane and went to Wychwood Primary School and then on to Burford, before his artistic talents drew him to Liverpool University to study for a combined degree in Fine Art and Psychology. He left with a 1st Class Honours and an appetite to put his skills to work, which saw him initially employed on the Barrington Park Estate as a landscaper. However, fate looked kindly on him and a chance encounter with Chris Badger at Crown Farm led to a joint business venture welding coffee tables and plant stands. He wedded his welding skills with his artistic ideas, and over time he turned from form and function to beauty and craft.

His early works featured figures and fish and through a combination of word of mouth and exhibits at Arts Weeks, his reputation steadily grew along with his order book. With most of his work secured through commissions, he was asked to produce 3 trees in 2007 based on an idea that someone had seen elsewhere. The result was spectacular and he is now famous for his trees, the size and variety of which have grown considerably over the past 10 years. He is currently working on one that can hold 450 leaves which are bought by charity donors; a beautiful combination of art and benevolence.

Chris TownsendHis work is exhibited around the world and last year he had pieces on display in locations as diverse as Hong Kong, New York and Singapore. Perhaps the highlight of his career to date was a special commission, which now sits proudly in a church in St John’s Wood in London, and was blessed by the Bishop of York in a special ceremony.

With the sale of Crown Farm, Chris was presented with an opportunity to expand and grow. He has now moved into more spacious premises at Asthall Barrow Farm near the Windmill Restaurant on the A40. Despite his growing reputation, Chris is still producing a wide variety of sculptures for locals in the Wychwoods, and is always happy to work with you on a particular item. When I asked him what his ambition was, he replied simply that it was to have a happy life and leave a legacy for his two boys. If you go to his website and look at his work, you can see how that can be achieved. I must admit I am a real fan with three pieces of his work (and growing). Chris’ website is http://www.christophertownsend.co.uk and you can reach him on 07941 503519.

Glynn Allcock

April – May 2017