Hawick man who turned work into art is branching out again

Tree surgery, chainsaw art and shiatsu – it’s a unique set of skills Mark Hume now has under his belt.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 7:00 am
In the studio...Mark Hume has created a shiatsu treatment room in the Crown Hotel but sessions are now suspended due to the country-wide lockdown.

And he hopes he can use them all to his advantage in the years to come, joking that he “won’t always be able to climb trees”!

But, as well as helping himself, the 40-year-old Hawick man also wants to help others too.

He has set up a studio at the Crown Hotel in the town to offer shiatsu treatments to help people relax and destress.

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Nothing stupid about this cupid...incredible artwork at Branxholm Park is among Mark's favourites. The old lime tree had split and was facing the chop but Mark carved out a whole new life for it.

Sadly, coronavirus put paid to their official launch but Mark will be raring to go when the current country-wide lockdown is over.

He was attracted to the alternative therapy after watching someone close undergo cancer treatment.

But he also called on it himself when he suffered a severe shoulder injury – so he knows first-hand its healing benefits.

Mark said: “Nothing else seemed to be working but it really did help me relax.

A Wim and a smile...Mark trained with Wim Hof in Amsterdam before braving the elements in Poland. He is now a trained instructor in the Iceman's Method.

“My friend also found it helped him relax and destress after chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

“That’s when I really started looking into it; I figured if it could help him, many other people could benefit too.

“I thought it would be nice to be able to help people so I studied the technique for three years.

“I’m now fully qualified to offer shiatsu as an alternative treatment therapy.

“The studio is all set to go but I’ll have to wait until after the lockdown to offer one-hour treatment sessions.”

The self-employed, married dad of two is continuing with his tree surgery and chainsaw art work meantime, with several commissioned pieces still yet to complete.

He first discovered a skill for fashioning art from old trees five years ago, when he carved an owl into an old tree stump.

He has since built up a reputation for creating stunning designs, many of which can now be found in gardens across the Borders.

They include a couple of sculptures for the Common Ridings in Hawick and Galashiels and a heron and trout carving for Borders Council, in the park opposite Hawick Museum.

In addition, he has created statues for private clients, ranging from their dogs to otters, stag heads, horses heads and signs.

Arguably, though, he is most proud of an incredible artwork which takes pride of place in the grounds of Branxholm Park House.

He said: “There was an old lime tree in the gardens which had split and had to come down.

“As it’s a wedding venue, they asked me to use the stump to create a cupid.

“It was pretty labour-intensive, taking about nine to ten days, but I was really pleased with the way it turned out. You’re never sure how it’s going to end up when you first start!”

While modest, it’s clear that Mark is a talented artist and he hopes to develop that side of the business more.

He joked: “You can only climb trees for so long; it’s been going really well so it’s my retirement plan!”

With that long-term future in mind, Mark hopes the shiatsu treatments will also be a hit with locals.

He said: “I’ve always been interested in alternative therapies and I wanted to do something to help people.

“Unfortunately, now’s not the time to be holding one-to-one consultations so it’s postponed until after the coronavirus lockdown.”

Mark has another string to his bow which, given the current crisis, many people may well be interested to find out more about.

He has trained in the Wim Hof Method, receiving instruction from the man who devised it, so is now also equipped to help others using this technique.

Known as the Iceman, Wim, from the Netherlands, is an extreme athlete noted for his ability to withstand freezing temperatures.

He has set Guinness world records for swimming under ice and prolonged full-body contact with ice, and still holds the record for a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow.

The 60-year-old has also been able to condition his body to fight off disease, as his method helps boost a fortified immune system.

Mark trained with Wim in Amsterdam, before testing his own resilience by scaling Mount Zneska in Poland wearing nothing more than shorts, boots and a smile.

Mark added: “Given the world we’re now living in, I think people could benefit greatly from the method.

“With social distancing, I won’t be able to instruct anyone for a wee while.

“But people might be interested in having a look on the website at www.wimhofmethod.com.”