Two months ago we posted a mystery about a wolf sculpture made from driftwood near the Oyster River on Vancouver Island. Today the mystery is solved.
We found him! On August 30th we posted some photos taken by Coast Mountain Culture senior writer Jeff Davies on our Facebook page with the following message: “A mystery: our senior writer Jeff Davies came across this beautiful driftwood statue near the Oyster River between the Courtenay and Campbell Rivers on Vancouver Island. We’re wondering who the talented sculptor is? Also, Jeff says there was a wolf cub being created earlier today but it’s now gone missing. Any beta anyone?”
The response was immediate and epic. Almost 3,000 people liked the images and it was shared over 1,000 times. About 180 comments debated who was responsible until finally, on September 25th we received a message from the artist himself: Alex Witcombe who owns Drifted Creations in Courtenay, British Columbia.
After some back and forth he agreed to do a Q&A with us about his unique driftwood creations. Below is the interview:
Hey Alex! So good to track you down. Driftwood is a unique medium. What’s your inspiration?
As a kid growing up on Vancouver Island, the beaches were awesome. I was really into dinosaurs so instead of driftwood I would see bones and skulls everywhere on the shores. Funny that my first sculpture would end up being a dinosaur! With that sculpture (Sheila the Velociraptor, done last August), I was actually trying to impress a girl I was recently dating. She was into dinosaurs as well, so I suggested we go build one on the beach for fun. “Sheila the Raptor” took off on social media so I decided to do a few more for some fundraisers. From there it kind of took off.
You’ve created a dinosaur, eagle and bears. What other things have you done?
My lady friend, the same one that I tried to impress (laughs), and I have had some awesome adventures creating free public art on the beaches for sure. But we have also had a blast building some big commissions this summer. We popped down to Colwood to build a life-size Wooly Mammoth and a calf and right after that got flown to Toronto to make use of Lake Ontario’s offerings to help put a positive spin on the flooding issues they had suffered. After that I went back to Colwood to create a piece for one of the local festivals at Esquimalt Lagoon. With a loose idea of what they wanted I created “McGnarly the Beach Ent,” a mystical character, protector of the lagoon and one of my favourites.
What tools do you work with aside from the wood?
The construction quality has come a long way since the original. Now there’s only certain woods I like to use such as fir, cedar, and hardwoods, but I have always loved utilizing the pieces with the most character. Finding gnarly, twisty pieces is such a treat. Figuring out how to build larger structures also gets my brain charged up. Initial supporting structure, attachment points, what kind of fasteners to use, etc. really gets my creative drive wound up. I was a big Lego freak as a kid so this artistic divergence was right up my alley.
Cool. So what’s next for you?
The people of Campbell River have been phenomenal in their support of this art and I hear regular comments of how it brightens their day to see these sculptures on the beach. It’s a really awesome feeling to have a positive effect on people’s daily lives just by having fun building something on the beach. I’m so happy to have finally made the move up to the city, it certainly feels like home! We’ll definitely be doing more sculptures on the beaches here in the future. We’ll just have to wait for the winter storms to blow some more of those sweet pieces in!