by Jane Kay
I spotted a notice pinned to the board at the entrance to Witham Way Country Park which invited people to join a free wood carving group. Free is excellent as far as I am concerned and I made a note of the date.
At the allotted time Peter Tree, the professional chair maker and carver, supplied us with a piece of pallet wood and a range of gouges supplied by Transported, who were the instigators and funders of our venture. After a short demonstration we were asked who wanted to have a go and we were off; that simple pallet wood was transformed into oak leaves and fish, and we were hooked.
After the initiation we were let loose on a piece of oak and carved alongside each other for a number of months creating the pieces that can be viewed as you walk along to the river. We learned a lot about carving and about each other, and although we were a diverse bunch of individuals, friendships grew.
Transported were a wonderful support to us throughout this time and we were nurtured as the group developed. We enjoyed free use of tools and wood and advice, until the day came when the apron strings were partially severed. We were to learn to walk unaided and as toddlers we floundered for a while before we began to find our feet. The winter months were challenging and we needed to keep moving or freeze to the spot. At this juncture Transported found us indoor space to carve, but the first venue did not work out and we felt isolated as we rarely met anyone else.
After knocking on a number of doors asking for a room we were invited to work in St Botolph’s Church, our very own Boston Stump. It has proved to be an amazing place in which to carve our wood. Words are inadequate to describe the sense of history and belonging or the peace and calm to be found within those ancient walls, even the almost imperceptible echo made by craftsman’s tools over the aeons.
We enjoy meeting people from all over the world. We share expertise and wood and fruit and vegetables (one French group swapped a plant for a mouse) and jam and memories and ideas and companionship, and we even have the occasional disagreement. But we are proud to be called the Boston and South Holland Wood Carvers (B&SHWC).
Our big project has been bubbling for over a year now, it is the ‘Tribute to the Local Fishermen’. The idea has developed steadily and we have been gifted by the Wayneflete Charitable Trust and Boston Big Local Community Chest. This provided enough funds to purchase essential gouges and oak. The oak will need to be cut and aired before we can start carving, but hopefully not too long before we can bring it into The Stump and set to work – apparently the 10 pieces of oak which will be assembled to make the 5 panels will weigh in the region of ¾ of a ton. We still have a long way to go and will need to find more funds to complete the base and finish the Tribute as we have envisaged.
In the meantime, we are carving little mice, turning boxes and making other wooden items for sale, and at the end of the year, from the donations we receive, plan to tithe the Stump to say a small thank you for such wonderful hospitality.