Artist Alex Witcombe utilizes driftwood in his pieces and has been hard at work on two commissions on Colwood beaches. See the full story on page A13. (Photo courtesy Alex Witcombe)

Creatures find home on Colwood waterfront

Comox Valley artist leaves mark on West Shore beaches

Driftwood artist Alex Witcombe is leaving a mammoth-sized mark on the shores of Colwood.

Over the past month Witcombe has created a pair of pieces that not only represent the area, but will be sure to catch the eye of tourists and locals alike.

The Comox Valley resident and owner of Drifted Creations created a pair of mammoths at Royal Bay’s Beachpark late last month and was commissioned for another piece – now known as McGnarly the Beach Ent – this past weekend as part of Colwood’s Eats and Beats festival.

Creating his art in front of an audience is always a fun experience, Witcombe explained.

“We had a lot of interest. There were very curious people coming up,” he said. “Particularly with the mammoth because it was so recognizable.”

For both pieces, Witcombe set out to create something that would fit in with Colwood’s history and environment.

With mammoth remains having been previously discovered at the former gravel pit that’s now the Royal Bay community, creating a parent and child-pair of wooly beasts was a natural fit.

For the Esquimalt Lagoon piece, the connection is a little less obvious but just as pronounced. The idea for the 10-foot “gentle giant” that’s depicted nurturing a small bird came from the City of Colwood itself.

“The concept for the sculpture is based on that fact that, here in Colwood, we have easy access to miles of ocean beaches and some of the most beautiful and abundant old growth forest in the region,” wrote communications manager Sandra Russell in an email. “As a ‘guardian of the lagoon and protector of birds and small creatures,’ he embodies our collective desire to preserve and nurture the cherished natural areas we enjoy here in Colwood.”

“The term ‘Ent’ comes from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novels, where they are described as ancient shepherds of nature,” Russell added.

Creating the pieces came with some challenges for Witcombe, although having enough driftwood certainly wasn’t one of them, he said.

“It was a great experience. It was a lot of work hauling that driftwood over. They’re long beaches,” he said. “But once we got the piles started and started building everything went together really well.”

joel.tansey@goldstream

gazette.com

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