This story is part of the Comox Valley Record’s Trio Magazine, published quarterly and available throughout the Comox Valley. The spring edition is available at the Record office (407D Fifth St.) and at businesses throughout the Comox Valley.
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The public has yet another opportunity to enjoy spaces brightened by the artwork of driftwood sculptor and artist Alex Witcombe of Drifted Creations.
Witcombe collaborated with Peninsula Co-op in the Comox Valley to create two driftwood panels and a mural on the building facing Guthrie Road in Comox.
The local artist has become known for his driftwood sculptures on Vancouver Island since building Sheila the Velociraptor on Stories Beach in the summer of 2016 (she has since been adopted by an Oyster River couple to relieve her bones of the wear and tear of ocean weather).
Since then, he’s gone on to craft West Coast-inspired driftwood sculptures for businesses, private clients, and community events, as well as pieces that encourage people to get out and enjoy nature - many people have gone looking for Fergus the Fox, who resides in the Oyster River Nature Park.
For the Co-op panels, he took inspiration from iconic local wildlife: a bald eagle and a black-tail buck. While the buck’s antlers provided a challenge - Witcombe had to come up with some new tool techniques - he says the rest of the panel came together smoothly and he found himself feeling overwhelmed by the result.
“The natural colours of the driftwood gave the buck so much life,” he wrote in an email.
It was branch manager Lezlie Chassé who reached out to Witcombe to help reinvigorate the 13-year-old space (previously the Comox Valley Co-op), which underwent extensive interior and exterior renovations.
Hiring a local artist made sense, she says, given the Co-op’s philosophy to strengthen and be involved in the community through initiatives like its Community Support Program.
Chassé said she wanted to see the bay and glaciers depicted in the mural, and Witcombe couldn’t help but agree after the transient orca known as T073B made headlines when it stayed in the Comox Harbour for more than a week.
Witcombe says he’s now interested in experimenting with a combination of the two forms of art.
“I’m intrigued to see what I can produce on a wall with a mural background and three-dimensional driftwood subjects in the foreground.”
He also plans to create more driftwood sculptures for the public to discover on the beaches and trails of the West Coast, and has been sharing his craft through workshops at his studio in Oyster Bay.
“I love the fact that my public art invites people to experience art made from nature, but primarily I enjoy that they experience the many wonders of our natural environment on the way to discover them.”