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Oak tree flourishes on Cradley factory floor

By Black Country Bugle  |  Posted: August 03, 2014

By Gavin Jones

  • Luke at work, grinding down the welds to give a safe, but authentically gnarled surface to the tree trunk

  • Right: Every pupil will stamp their name onto an oak leaf which will be attached to the tree's branches

  • Luke's plans for the huge steel oak tree which will dominate

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BLACK COUNTRY sculptor Luke Perry, fresh from bringing new life to the parks and gardens of Watford, is back on home turf and busy creating one of his most impressive pieces yet – commissioned by a local school.

Taking shape in the heat of a factory floor in Cradley, just a five minute walk from the Bugle offices, is a life-size steel oak tree, assembled by Luke from bars of steel welded together in an impressive likeness of age-old tree bark. The tree has been commissioned by Cradley Heath primary school Timbertree Academy, and will eventually be fitted into the corner of two walls on the approach to the school entrance.

Luke invited us down to the factory to see the tree taking shape, and told us how it will appear once finished.

"It's going to be pretty big, but because it's fixed to two walls, the weight is spread out nicely. I've got to cut it into sections so that it can be galvanised before it goes to the school, but once it's all assembled, and the long branches added to the higher parts, it will be roughly twelve feet tall and about forty feet wide.

"Each pupil at the school will hand stamp their name onto a stainless steel oak leaf, and every one of them will be fixed to the branches of the tree. The stamping will curl the leaves a little bit, which should make them all the more lifelike. It will be a permanent document of all the children who were at the school the year it became an academy."

As well as several hundred leaves, the tree will also be adorned with steel figures including a hedgehog, fox, bat, butterfly, mouse, bee, owl and crow.

The finished tree will be installed at Timbertree later in the year.

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