It’s a sausage, it’s ten feet long, weighs three tons and is probably the biggest banger in Britain.
It’s the latest artwork from top chainsaw sculptor Ed Parkes and it now stands proudly speared on a wooden fork outside the Conwy headquarters of Wales’s best known butcher.
Edwards the Welsh Butcher commissioned local boy Ed, whose stunning wooden artworks include a Spitfire for the RAF’s 100th anniversary and a pair of snow leopards for Colwyn Bay Mountain Zoo.
Chairman Ieuan Edwards, who founded the business in Conwy High Street in 1984, was keen to make use of a dead ash tree which stood outside the company building just off the A55 on the outskirts of the town.
He said: “The tree was here before we were but it was dying and we were wondering what to do with it – it just seemed a shame to have it taken down and taken away so we came up with this idea which is synonymous with what we do.
“Ed is a local sculptor and he works in wood which is the most natural of materials so we thought why not get him to create something to represent the product we are best known for.”
The company’s signature product is its sausages, and their dedicated team of butchers make 40 million of the popular and tasty bangers a year.
Ed, from just up the road in Talybont, used his variety of chainsaws to sculpt the lower trunk of the tree into a fork with four tines created from the different stems of the tree.
Meanwhile he carved the gently curved sausage from a three-ton length of a black pine which had fallen on the historic Bodnant Gardens estate, in the Conwy Valley.
Then he used a tele-handler crane to lift the banger onto the tines, fixed with four mortise and tenon joints, with the tips of the tines, made from the ash offcuts, sticking out of the top of the sausage.
Ed originally trained as a tree surgeon before switching to chainsaw art five years ago after the small-scale sculptures he made for friends and family proved popular gifts.
He said: “This was definitely one of the most unusual commissions I’ve had but I was delighted to get the call from Edwards and it is one that has brought two fine trees back to life.
“The dying ash tree had been coppiced so it had stems which made it perfect for the tines of the fork while the black pine had fallen down in a storm last year so this has brought both trees back to life.
“I’ve done lots of animal and abstract sculptures and I use all sorts of different kinds of wood and try and take inspiration from the shape and the grain.
“In this case the tree had a triple stem and when I started carving it I managed to get four prongs for the fork which I think makes it more effective and realistic and using the wood from the tree for the tips of the fork meant the grain matched..
“I use specialist carving bars made by Japanese firm Sugi Hara which I came across when I was commissioned to do a piece over in Japan and then I use Osmo oil as a varnish to show off the grain and the features in the wood.”
Ieuan Edwards saw the opportunity to expand his business and since 2004 the products from Edwards the Welsh Butcher have been stocked by all the major supermarkets in Wales and increasingly into England as well while the original butcher’s shop was crowned Best Butchers Shop in the UK in 2014 and has since three times been crowned Best Butchers Shop in Wales.
With increased demand in England as well the business has expanded by redeveloping its headquarters to enable the company to take on an extra 20 employees and also add extra chilled storage, upgraded staff amenities, new offices, and a new product development kitchen.
It will see them double production to more than 80 tons a week with the £2.6 million investment self-funded by the company with additional support from the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities Development programme and a loan from HSBC.
For more on Edwards the Welsh Butcher go to https://www.weareedwards.co.uk