Para with his swans and salmon wood sculptures at the Lakeside Hotel, Ballina. PHOTOS: ODHRAN DUCIE

Symbolic wood sculptures in Ballina

Visitors to the Lakeside Hotel in Ballina have been intrigued by the series of tree carvings recently completed by wood sculptor Paradzai Havatitye.

Para, as he is better known as locally, was commissioned by the hotel to hew artistic creations from the stumps of four cedar trees on the hotel grounds. Using a chainsaw, chisel and other hand tools, he managed to create four wooden sculptures that have become an added attraction at the popular hotel.

Each of the sculptures are symbolic. The two swans represent love and togetherness. Swans stay together for life and Para's creation is in keeping with the Lakeside Hotel's widespread renown as a wedding venue.

Staying with this theme is the large seat that Para carved from another nearby tree. It is big enough to allow a couple sit on it together and it has proven a very popular addition to the wedding photo options in the hotel grounds. Para skillfully carved three wise owls into seat, an alternative play on the ‘see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ maxim.

Leaping fish have been carved into another tree stump, symbolising the adjacent stretch of the Shannon's days as a good salmon run. Nature and mythology inspired this creation, which gives one cause to ponder the story of the Salmon of Knowledge.

The sculpture series is fittingly completed with a depiction of Brian Ború, the High King of Ireland, who hailed from just across the Shannon. Para's arboreal tribute has the warrior king on horseback riding into battle with another horse beside him.

Each piece was coated with a natural outer oil finish on completion. It took about a month to fully finish the project. Originally from Zimbabwe and now based in Roscrea, Para's work can be seen in many parts of Ireland, and abroad - he recently travelled to Pensylvania to stake a unique claim to fame with the world's largest woodcarving of a turkey. Closer to home, he carved a large seat from the base of an old maracapana tree in the grounds of St Mary of the Rosary Church, Nenagh.