Must-see chainsaw carvings around Medicine Hat.
Five years ago, Marina Cole had never used a chainsaw. Fast-forward to 2021, and she is finishing up yet another awe-inspiring wood carving in Medicine Hat.
Cole who lives in Irvine Alberta, only 15 minutes from Medicine Hat, takes old, dead trees and gives them new life by transforming them into works of art. Over the past few years, Cole has created must-see chainsaw carvings throughout the city. See some of Cole’s best known and celebrated sculptures for yourself!
Gas City Campground
Cole’s sculptures at Gas City Campground were created with the intention of getting young children out and teaching them about the animals they may encounter during their stay.
“There are probably ten or more and there is also a small scavenger hunt for kids to complete based around the tracks of different animals that live in the area. Kids can spend a day running around the park looking for all of them.” says Cole who in addition to being an accomplished sculptor is also a mom.
Dan MacCharles Park
While it is not the largest or most well-known park in the city, Dan MacCharles Park is home to an amazing Dragon Sculpture by Cole. Cole created the dragon’s body out of a tree stump, then added the wings, which she carved separately. How many other cities can say they have a resident dragon?
“I heard it was a dragon spruce that was coming down, so it just made sense to make a dragon,” she says. “The dragon is one of the cooler pieces I’ve done” says Cole.
Kin Coulee Park
Another of Cole’s earlier works, is the tall sculpture celebrating all things Canada and Canadian heritage. Anyone walking the Kin Coulee loop on a summer afternoon will notice the sculpture just past the Kinette Corner near the baseball diamond.
Kiwanis Central Park
Cole allows the material and her intuition guide her creative process often without a clear vision of the finished sculpture.
“Sometimes you start working, and things come together.” says Cole. “I did the first three pieces and then had a fourth stump to carve . I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, but as I worked on those first three pieces, I noticed so many people walking their dogs at the park. After I finished the bear, mushroom and the house, I created an ‘Ode to Dog Walkers’ that is dedicated to everyone walking their dogs through the park.”
Many who grow up in Medicine Hat have fond memories of Kiwanis Central Park and the whale slide residing in it.
Cole’s four sculpture pieces at the park now provide a new generation of Medicine Hat children with memories, and offer unique photo opportunities to those passing through the city.
Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede
The piece at the Medicine Hat Exhibition & Stampede is a collaboration of what the stampede is all about, including bull riding and horses, and also a memoir for the Indigenous children that were taken from their families.
“When you walk around the back of the carving, you’ll see an eagle with the look of a young boy and girl in the wings,” says Cole.
Angel on Fourth
Cole’s latest work and possibly her most breathtaking so far should be finished by the end of April. An angel sits atop the stump of a tree that collapsed during a 2018 windstorm at a heritage home in the Medicine Hat Flats.
Cole says the piece can have different interpretations. “I think it’s definitely going to change from person to person. To some, this could just be art they find cool,” she said. “For others, the angel can have a bit of a deeper meaning.”
Chainsaw Spirit Gallery in Irvine, Alberta
In November 2021, Cole decided to showcase other artists around the province and opened Chainsaw Spirit Gallery in Irvine, Alberta. Here, you can find a number of her pieces for purchase, as well as other artistic, hand-made home decor items.