A COLOURFUL new landmark has risen at a Purbeck beauty spot – a 14ft totem pole!
The landmark sculpture has been carved and painted by users of the Wareham Area Men’s Shed.
It stands in a picturesque glade at the Blue Pool, near Wareham, after a Scots pine tree was felled there for the purpose.
A dozen members of the Men’s Shed stripped the trunk as it stood on chunky trestles before setting to work with chisels and gouges.
Using methods pioneered by Native Canadians, they carved out stylised shapes reflecting the pole’s setting at the renowned beauty spot.
Over the space of three months, interpretations of an owl, grass snake, badger and sika stag gradually emerged from the wood along with a ‘sunshine’ face and Wareham’s town crest, while a sea eagle’s wings and head were fashioned back at the Shed’s workshop.
Once the elements were painted in traditional bright colours, and the eagle wings and head were attached, the pole was finally erected at the far end of the Blue Pool’s Azalea Walk.
And the pole has already become a major attraction with most visitors stopping to take photos.
The creation was the brainchild of project leader, Chris Hockley.
“While we love making things for the community at the Men’s Shed, such as planters and bird boxes, we felt the time was ripe for a bigger challenge – and they don’t come much bigger than a 14ft totem pole,” he said.
“I knew the Blue Pool was having to fell some pine trees as part of their woodland regeneration schemes so I cheekily asked the owner, Matt Jones, if we could have one to carve as a special project for this summer.
“Matt responded brilliantly by giving us two – one for practice and one for the real thing.
“We were out of our comfort zone as none of us had ever carved before. And I suppose we should have practised more than we did. But in the event, spurred on by a book we bought appropriately called Carve Your Own Totem Pole, we more or less got straight to it.”
But he said the group of determined craftspeople had ‘spent a truly enjoyable summer carving and painting together in such a glorious setting’.
“I hope people who see the end result will think it spectacular,” Chris added.
“I know that, personally, I am knocked out by it and can only thank some of my Shedmates who are far more skillful than me.”
The Blue Pool’s team of woodsmen provided logs for the eagle wings and head to be sculpted, and helped the Shedders raise the pole.
Owner Matt said: “We have been delighted to work alongside Wareham Area Men’s Shed and their project has been a pleasure for us, too.
“It was a wonderful proposal for us to receive and we are thrilled with the result.
“Totem is derived from a word meaning ‘kinship’, which could not be more appropriate for this truly inspiring group of friends.”
For more information on the Men’s Shed, log on to warehamshed.org.uk.