Dorset beauty spot The Blue Pool near Wareham has taken delivery of a colourful new attraction created by a men’s group that promotes social inclusivity and wellbeing.
The 14 foot totem pole was carved and painted by Wareham Area Men’s Shed, which provides opportunities for friendship, social engagement and skill sharing, often through creative projects.
The Shedders and the Blue Pool team with the totem pole in position
Methods pioneered by native Canadians
The pole was hauled into position in a picturesque glade at The Blue Pool on Wednesday 16th August 2023.
It was created by twelve members of the Men’s Shed who 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 woodland setting.
The pole is lifted off its trestles by the Blue Pool staff member Tom Jones using a forklift tractor
Owl, badger and sika stag gradually emerged
Over the space of three months, interpretations of an owl, badger and sika stag gradually emerged from the tree truck 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.
It has already become a major attraction with visitors stopping to take photos.
Shedders (left to right) Phil Stephens, Alan Sperring, Chris Hockley and Pat Keen after attaching the eagle wings and head
“Time was ripe for a bigger challenge”
Project leader Chris Hockley said:
“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 14 foot totem pole!
“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 How To Carve Your Own Totem Pole, we more or less got straight to it.
“We have 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. 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 team manoeuvre the pole into position
“We are thrilled with the result”
The Blue Pool’s team provided pine logs for the eagle wings and head, and helped the Shedders raise the pole.
Owner of The Blue Pool Matt Jones 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.”