“Being outside in nature 100% helps our mental health.”

Such is the view of Rob Dalton of Daltonwood, an artist whom you can watch at work at The Game Fair. He works in wood using chainsaws to create sculptures.

An artist?

Ten years ago however, nobody would have been more surprised than Rob to be described as an artist, let alone exhibiting at The Game Fair. As he says: “My sister commented, ‘Rob, where has this come from? You’ve never had an artistic bone in your body.'”

Ten years ago Rob was crippled by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). After a career in the services he became ill, eventually having to be signed off work for a year. He was prescribed medication and counselling and decided not to return.

So how did he get the idea for working in wood? Rob says: “I’d always been a lover of the outdoors and I knew my way around timber, I’d been an apprentice to a cabinet maker after I left school. When I was in recovery a neighbour suggested to me that I did a forestry and chainsaw felling course. Through that I came across Phil Dunford, a wonderful fella and a typical lumberjack. He carved in wood whilst I watched and one day he handed me a saw and wood and encouraged me to do my first carving, which was a mushroom.

Something artistic

“I carried on and started to feel much much better. I told my counsellor about it who was very enthusiastic. She explained that through counselling you change your neural pathways, creating new ones and in the process can discover something artistic within you, which is what happened to me.

“I did a course in wood carving and have been developing my skills ever since.

“Chainsaw carving helps me to get rid of all the ‘sizzling’ mental noise. You have to focus 100% and you lose yourself in what you are doing. It’s been a game changer for me.”

At The Game Fair Rob will be showing a mixture of work, carvings of dogs, hares, horses and owls and will be giving demonstrations every day. On show will also be his TL – Talking Listening – tree, which he has created to raise awareness of mental health. He says: “People can sit on it and reflect.”