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New Sculpture Hits the Spot

A noteworthy addition to the landscape in Blandford has been unveiled: a wooden carving depicting a cooper hammering into a beer barrel. The sculpture is the creation of local Dorset sculptor and wood carver Lee Dickenson, who runs Squashedapple Woodcarving, based in Sturminster Newton.

The Cooper

This beer-making artisan, made of solid oak, and revealed last week at a public ceremony, was placed in the new St Mary’s Hill development in Blandford to honour the town’s brewing history. Blandford has been associated with beer-making since 1777, when the Hall & Woodhouse brewery was set up.

The artwork, funded by housing developer Bellway Wessex, which is building over 200 homes in Blandford, was commissioned as part of a set of rules laid out by planning conditions, which stipulates that the company must contribute £2.4m to help improve Blandford’s infrastructure and services (of which more than £2m will go towards education).

Lucy Seakins, Bellway Wessex's Head of Sales, said: “The brewery is less than half a mile from our development so we thought it would be fitting for us to commission a work of art that would celebrate the village’s beer-making tradition."

In clever fashion, by depicting a cooper, the artwork combines the artisan brewing heritage of the town with a design style featured in the Bellway Wessex development. Lucy goes on:

“The reason for choosing a cooper to be represented in this public work of art was inspired by the happy coincidence that it is not only a tradesman associated with the brewing industry, but also the name of one of the house types we are building at St Mary’s Hill."

The company's Artisan Collection, which includes a two-bedroom Cooper design, has been created to celebrate the names of many traditional artisan crafts. “This magnificent wooden carving, also called The Cooper, has been afforded pride of place in the public open space right at the entrance to the development," explains Lucy. "This means that it is the first thing that visitors will see when they come to the site."

“So far 77 homes at St Mary’s Hill have been handed over to their new residents and it is lovely to see a new neighbourhood beginning to form."

“We hope that these homeowners, and those that follow them, will enjoy the sight of this glorious sculpture which reminds people of the proud history of the village’s beer-making roots.”

Let's drink to that. Mine's a pint of the local...

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