Burnt or “sick” trees of the Monchique mountain range in the Algarve come alive during the Christmas season at the hands of sculptor Nelson Ramos, turning the trunks into nativity figures with chainsaws.
The large pieces of the three wise men are being sculpted live in Largo dos Chorões, in the center of the village, where the crib will be installed. A project started in 2017 with the figures of Joseph, Mary and Baby Jesus, to which the cow, sheep and donkey were added in 2018.
A native of the Algarve, but an Alentejo resident, Nelson Ramos, a woodcarver by profession, began sculpting with chainsaws about five years ago, after being invited to make 11 figures for the crib in the municipality of Castelo de Vide, Portalegre district.
In a tent located in the center of the Algarve village, Nelson Ramos finishes one of the three wise men, giving life to the trunk of an old centenary pine tree hit by the fire of 2018:
The transformation of the trunks into large pieces of art is done only with chainsaws, each with specific functions, a task that, for the sculptor, is not the main difficulty.
According to Nelson Ramos, although it is not easy to handle the chainsaws, the biggest difficulty is to work the woods, some hollows, rotten, burned or greatly affected by the woodworm.
According to the sculptor, his work is always conditioned to the state of the wood. It takes an average of four to five days for the artist to complete each of the crib’s pieces, which can be perpetuated over time.