Some men stand at the bottom of a cliff and have an undeniable urge to become part of the mountain, to scale the cliff and know the mountain. Other men stand among tall timbers and talk to the trees, finding their peace in the soft murmuring of the leaves, in the breath of each tree, in the community of the forest, in the strength of the trunks, and in the selfless protection the forest gives to other life, man, beast, bird or insect. A man can become a sculptor of souls of the trees.
Toni Venzo is such a man. Brought up in the foothills above Campese near Bassano del Grappa by a father who loved the forest and its timber, it was inevitable that the soul of the trees would infect his being. Toni’s father still roams the cherry woods sating his soul in the aroma, sounds, sight and touch of his trees.
Toni became a sculptor of souls of the trees, firstly with the cherry and later with many other grand trees. How does a man grow to become a sculptor if not through love of the medium with which he works. Standing in a forest, the woodsman feels the different breath and nature of each tree. He knows that his purpose is to give perpetual greatness to each tree he touches. Woodcarving with feeling.
His first touch as a sculptor of souls of the trees is to create tragedy, to fell his friend with respect and admiration for the long life that has seen many wars and not enough peace. He then enfolds the tree trunk in his arms, keeping it cool and away from the radiant sun, letting it sleep for years as it slowly prepares itself for rebirth.
The sculptor visits the tree often and finally senses when it is ready to be transformed into a sculpted body. He may sit with the trunk for hours, breathing in the unique subtle aromas of the wood, letting the trunk give up its dreams for greatness to his welcoming being. It is now that he can sense the figure rising out of the trunk. It is time to gather his tools, take his friend to the studio – and sculpt. He roughs out the figure casting off chips of aromatic wood.
With each cut, the life gradually returns to the wood and reveals to the sculptor more of the soul of the tree, until, together, the statue and the man are formed in an immortal work of art of the sculptor of souls of the trees.