AS a boy, Alan “Buddy” Brook liked to draw pictures in the ice that appeared on his bedroom window on winter mornings. He has been fusing art and the natural world ever since.

The garden of the beautiful Baildon house he shares with his wife, Anita, is home to squirrels and birds feeding on nuts and seeds. And inside, there is flora and fauna in the remarkable, intricate wood carvings Buddy has created from logs and branches retrieved from the garden.

Roses, berries, leaves, daisies, acorns, even the faces of tiny ‘woodland creatures’ appear in the exquisitely detailed sculptures, taking the concept of sustainable art to a whole new level.

Now 71, Buddy spent his early life in a prefab in Greengates, one of six siblings, and moved to Shipley aged 11. He enjoyed drawing as a child and in 1962, at the age of 14, he got a place at Bradford School of Art.

Arriving five years after David Hockney - “I later went to his first exhibition in 1969, above the old Penny Bank on North Parade”, recalls Buddy - he was one of the college’s youngest pupils.

“I was the first one in my family to go to college. Dad took two jobs to support me,” says Buddy. “I wanted to do fine art but I didn’t have O-levels so I had to do a printed textile course. I loved it; we had some great teachers who specialised in things like pottery, screen-printing and jewellery-making. I learned a lot from them.”

He graduated aged 18 with a first class degree in Printed Textile Design and took various jobs to earn money for art equipment. “I worked on building sites and cleaned buses two nights a week. I was too young to know what I really wanted to do,” says Buddy. “I applied to Slade and the Royal Academy, but didn’t get in.”

After landing a job as a service fitter for British Gas, he worked there until retirement in 2008. He spent much of his spare time drawing and painting - “people at work would often ask me to paint family portraits” - and making stone and wood carvings.

Even working in all weathers outdoors, he always had an artist’s perspective. “I spent a lot of time digging roads, I used to find black Yorkshire stone which had beautiful colours underneath,” says Buddy.

When he retired he built an art studio in his garden. “I decided I’d like to do some carving,” says Buddy. “I’d done some smallscale carving before but, with more time on my hands, I wanted a bigger project.”

That came in the shape of a huge log which fell from a Sycamore tree at the bottom of his garden. After hollowing out and removing rot from inside the branch, he started to carve intricate details of flowers, leaves and fruit; transforming it into a stunning piece of art. He called his first carving Together At Last, it took over two years to complete and in 2017 it went on display at the Bradford Open exhibition at Cartwright Hall. Now Buddy is seeking exhibition space for his collection of large-scale carvings.

“I’m not interested in selling them; I couldn’t put a price on them. I just want people to see them,” he says.

Buddy starts off with an idea of what he wants to create, then lets it develop naturally. “It’s quite an organic process,” he says. He begins by removing the bark, and cutting out the inside, then chips out the rough side. After carving all the detail he smooths it with a polish and seal. The log sculptures retain their original shape, and the carvings - roses, strawberries, acorns, oak leaves - look like they’re a natural part of it. Even right inside the natural crack of the wood there is more intricate detail. As Anita remarks: “It looks like a veil has been lifted, revealing things that were there all along”.

There’s something very tactile about the sculptures. “Works of art are often displayed under glass, but we like people to touch the carvings,” says Anita. “They look and feel as though they’re made of wax.”

Dotted around Buddy’s studio is an assortment of old tools, many of which he buys at auctions, as well as some he made. He loses himself in his carvings, often working away for hours at a time. “The time disappears,” he says. “It’s not like the process of painting, when you have to get the right shade of colour. With carving I just pick up a chisel and go where it takes me. It suits my personality.”

A carving in his studio is painted in different colours, giving the flora and fauna a new dimension, and there are influences of the Arts and Crafts movement; art nouveau, Cubism and psychedelia.

In the basement is a 9ft-long wood carving Anita calls ‘The Dragon’ because of its distinctive shape. The detail is incredible. Even Buddy and Anita are in there, as little figures peering from the strawberries and marigolds - look closer and Buddy is sketching her!It’s a lovely romantic depiction of the couple, who met at ice-skating classes at Bradford Ice Arena 25 years ago.

Further along ‘The Dragon’ sits Buddy’s grandson Lucas, cross-legged like a pixie. A blink-and-you-miss-it leg sticks up from a cluster of flowers - “That’s Lizzie, our niece,” says Buddy - and right at the end is a tiny branch the size of a little finger, carved into a rose bud.

Buddy uses mostly wood from the garden, but one sculpture, of a boy with a dog, was made from an old mill beam used by road-workers, originally painted red and white. Another figure, of a sweet little girl holding flowers, is particularly special to Buddy and Anita; they called her Katie, after the baby they lost.

Returning from holiday in the summer of 2015, the couple discovered they had been burgled - and the Katie carving was one of the stolen items. “We have the Telegraph & Argus to thank for getting her back,” says Buddy. Following an appeal in the T&A, the wooden figure was spotted in a rucksack and safely returned to the couple.

Their lovely Victorian home is filled with Buddy’s artwork. As well as the carvings there are oil and watercolour paintings of Anita and other family members, including Lucas. A painting of stables in Baildon reveals, on closer inspection, fairies perched on a gate. “I’ve always been inspired by nature,” says Buddy. “I’m not interested in huge landscapes; I like to show the magical, dancing light, shadows and colours you find in small bushes and hedgerows - I put the fairies in to symbolise that.”

When you see Buddy’s work, close-up, you lose yourself in a world that is both otherworldly and natural.

* Buddy and Anita would like to hear from galleries or other premises that could exhibit their wood carvings. Call 07984 762771 or email