HAVE you ever driven through Barnton and spotted the Jam Butty Boy? Maybe you’ve meandered past the Mobberley Meerkats? Or perhaps you’ve been struck by the giant hand in Knutsford?

These are just some of the amazing creations crafted by Mobberley man Andy Burgess, who’s carved a career for himself by making statues and sculptures with his chainsaw.

Knutsford Guardian: The Mobberley Meerkats outside The Railway pubThe Mobberley Meerkats outside The Railway pub

He’s been commissioned by the National Trust and his figures feature in private homes, schools, and country parks the length and breadth of the country. If you’ve ever eaten in a Nando’s, you’ll definitely have spotted some of his work. He has even been appointed by one of the UK’s acting national treasures.

That’s quite an impressive body of work for something Andy started as a hobby just over a decade ago.

Andy was inspired by the success of his brother Tim, a retired chief superintendent, who took up the practice after retiring in the mid-2000s.

“I started to learn how to use a chainsaw around 2007 when my brother Tim kept asking me to try and showed me the basics,” says Andy.

Knutsford Guardian: A 12 foot dead oak which Andy transformed into a hand holding a veil which wraps around and flows into the trunkA 12 foot dead oak which Andy transformed into a hand holding a veil which wraps around and flows into the trunk

“He had started about three of four years earlier as a hobby, but I could see it was developing for him and felt I wanted to experiment too.

“After Tim helped me to get started with knowledge and equipment, I went on a chainsaw safety course – very important – and I could see it was something I really wanted to develop as I felt there was scope to turn it into a full time job.

“From there I started to help Tim on tree stump jobs in situe, to pick up tips, and soon after I began to attend shows and displays where working in front of people generated orders and commissions.

“Very quickly I started to take on anything I could, sculpting requests and seeing it develop into a full-time job which takes me all over the country. And further afield – last year I was flown out to St Tropez to sculpt a tree for someone!”

Tim and Andy have worked together on pieces for the RHS and it was there in 2013 that Andy met TV gardener Alan Titchmarsh, who invited him to carve live on his afternoon show, which led to his commission from Dame Judi Dench.

“She was watching that show when it aired, and she then ordered from me,” says Andy.

“She requested a red squirrel sculpture for her partner. I delivered the sculpture to her home address, coinciding with my 40th birthday weekend.

“My wife and I turned up at her house and she was actually there. I was supposed to be dropping it with her personal assistant, so this was a welcome surprise.

“Not only that but her partner was with her and saw the unveiling. She lives in a beautiful, idyllic property in the south east, and she invited us into her kitchen where we had cups of tea and chocolate biscuits.

“She even gave me a bottle of champagne upon hearing it was my 40th. It really was a fantastic and very surreal experience to be sitting at a kitchen table with her. What an amazingly relaxed, kind, and friendly person she is.”

Knutsford Guardian: A Nando’s column in a restaurant in Oldham. Made of solid oak, it stands at four metres high, with a design based on African mud huts.A Nando’s column in a restaurant in Oldham. Made of solid oak, it stands at four metres high, with a design based on African mud huts.

While that may have been one of his more memorable jobs, Andy says he loves all the work he undertakes.

“It sounds daft but I love each and every job I take on – whether it is a small life-size rabbit for someone, or a huge installation weighing several tonnes that has to be delivered on a crane.

“I suppose if I had to pick one type then I really enjoy the complete one-offs that people ask for. Ones that might never be replicated again.

“I’ve produced over 70 bespoke commissions for the Nando’s restaurant chain and worked with prominent clients such as Taylor Wimpey and The National Trust. I’m a regular exhibitor at The RHS shows which has always been a fantastic place to showcase my work.”

Knutsford Guardian: Andy's sculpture of war hero Private Alfred Wilkinson.Andy's sculpture of war hero Private Alfred Wilkinson.

One of his personal favourite pieces of work is a sculpture of a First World War soldier outside the Mobberley Victory Hall.

The piece is a tribute to war hero Private Alfred Wilkinson, who won the medal for his bravery during the Battle of Selle in Marou in France in October 1918.

“It has to be up there as one of my favourites, especially as I get such fantastic feedback about it,” says Andy.

For anyone considering starting out as a chainsaw artist, Andy has some words of advice.

“Buy all the correct safety equipment and PPE, go on a basic chainsaw safety course. Practice on reasonable sized chunks of wood to see how the saw moves in the wood and try and curve and shape pieces rather than making them look too square or blocky.”

He also recommends taking inspiration from what’s around you.

“I’m inspired by natural organic shapes, woodland creatures and animals. Also, the human face or images I see of others’ work either in wood or other materials. There’s lots of inspiration out there if you look for it.”

To find out more about Andy’s work and how you can commission him visit andy-burgess.com, and follow him on Facebook, Instgram and Twitter to view his day to day work.