Local sculptor makes a splash

With a thirst for creation, Fred Dobbs was the kind of kid who sculpted bars of soap into art.

Local sculptor Fred Dobbs poses with his “Ghost Cat” sculpture. The piece will be on display at this year’s Sculpture Splash.

Local sculptor Fred Dobbs poses with his “Ghost Cat” sculpture. The piece will be on display at this year’s Sculpture Splash.

Pamela Roth

With a thirst for creation, Fred Dobbs was the kind of kid who sculpted bars of soap into art or constantly doodled on a piece of paper in the classroom.

It was inevitable that some day Dobbs would turn his love for creating sculptures into a profession that’s taken him around the world.

“The idea of being a maker of things has always sort of been part of my core,” said Dobbs, who is based in Victoria. “It’s so gratifying having spent hours on something and then you have a piece that is your own, and you are able to enjoy the fruits of your labour.”

Dobbs first began dabbling with sand sculptures in the 1980s, where he went on to compete in international events, winning titles in Canada, the U.S. and the world championships. He eventually turned his passion into a livelihood, working as a professional sand sculpture for about 14 years, producing works at fairs, festivals and shopping centres as far away as Australia and Japan.

The experience opened his eyes to other art forms, and during the last 10 years Dobbs started working with South Island Bronze Works, still producing his own work, along with 20 other sculptures in bronze.

Ranging from the size of a basketball to a telephone booth, Dobbs typically focuses on sculptures of animals, and has particular affinity with sea otters ever since he saw them in captivity at the Vancouver Aquarium.

For the past two years, Dobbs has been the president of the Vancouver Island Sculptors Guild and is one of 25 sculptors that will come together Sept. 19 at Macaulay Point Park for Sculpture Splash, showcasing pieces made out of wood, stone, clay, glass, bronze and steel against the backdrop of the Olympic Mountains on Buxton Green and Fleming Beach.

“When you have a sculpture that goes into a place like Macaulay Point Park it just sort of adds another level of ambiance,” said Dobbs. “Suddenly it kind of makes it really special.”

Presented by the Township Community Arts Council (TCSC), Sculpture Splash will feature more than 90 pieces created by local artists.

The weekend kicks off with a champagne gala at the English Inn on Sept. 18 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Victoria Harbour Ferries will run from the Steamship Terminal directly to the event.