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Joy the pear tree nymph

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: March 19, 2014

  • "Joy", the pear tree nymph, grown in Gloucestershire, made in the Black Country

  • A medieval Aynuk and Ali, wooden carvings from the choir stalls in St. Matthew's Church, Walsall

  • Bryn has carved a spider and web on the top of the wooden sculpture

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THE roots of the Black Country are deeply embedded in the industrial age, a time of uncompromising upheaval that overshadowed almost every remaining vestige of the medieval world.

And today there is virtually nothing left of that age except a few ecclesiastical ruins, and examples of furniture within the sanctuary of some of the region's parish churches.

Medieval works of art in the form of carved misericords and choir stalls, hewn out of blocks of wood felled from the ancient oak forests of England, and then fashioned into spectacular compositions, were generally made by unknown geniuses who habitually carved their designs to celebrate both the miraculous and the mundane.

Sadly here in the Dark Region examples of this type medieval craftsmanship are sadly few and far between, but St. Matthew's Church in Walsall, which featured in the Bugle late last year after celebrating eight hundred years of history, has some classic examples.

We can only wonder at who these talented individuals were, perhaps local craftsmen hired for a short while by a master, or members of a travelling guild carving their designs into the wooden furniture of churches and cathedrals the length and breadth of England.

Fortunately there is a contemporary wood carver in our midst, a modern day artisan by the name of Bryn Williamsfrom Cradley, a prodigy of those medieval wood carvers whose works of art have graced the pages of the Bugle on several occasions in the past, and whose craftsmanship is superb in every detail. He naturally shuns any plaudits he receives for his extraordinary skill, but like his medieval counterparts Bryn has the ability to bring an ordinary block of wood to life in a magical and ethereal way.

Last year Bryn was given a piece of Gloucestershire pear wood which had been left to mature for some 25 years, and over the period of a few weeks he created "Joy", a pear tree nymph, a haunting face of great mystery and presence engulfed in the foliage of the forest.He generously brought his work of art in to show us here at Bugle House and Joy both captured the imagination and admiration of all who had the privilege to see her.

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