For photos of Paul’s work, scroll to the bottom of this post.
If you were to drive by the lagoon while paying close attention, you might notice the head of a wooden bear cub sculpture curiously peeking back at you, seemingly in mid-stride. Or perhaps you’d see a bird peering downward, appearing to watch over its young.
If casually driving by, however, there’s a good chance of missing out on these wooden sculptures and their beauty due to them being made of driftwood blending them into the nature that surrounds them.
The life-like animal sculptures that dot the beach off Esquimalt Lagoon are the pride and joy of local artist, Paul Lewis.
Lewis creates each piece from washed-up driftwood, the imperfections of the wood give each piece authenticity and a unique feel that can’t be replicated.
While Lewis creates the art for free, he occasionally does commission work for people who just have to have some of his artwork—often tributes to pets.
Carlos Pacheco, President of Nuvo Iron, stumbled upon Lewis and his artwork on his trip to Victoria. Looking to take in some of BC’s natural beauty, Pacheco and his family decided to explore a beach.
Upon further inspection, he noticed the pieces of art and had to learn more. He spotted Paul and asked him if he was the one responsible for the animals along the beach.
Paul said that he was and he and Pacheco had a conversation that inspired Pacheco to donate a pallet of our screws from a local retailer, Lumberworld in Victoria, BC, once he had returned home. Lewis was more than happy to receive the donation, an essential material to his craftsmanship.
I had the chance to speak to Pacheco about donating the screws. He expressed gratitude to simply have the opportunity to run into Lewis and learn more about him and his art as he felt like it brought an extra layer of beauty and interest to an already beautiful hidden gem.
So, if you ever have the chance to visit Vancouver Island, take the time to go to Colwood and Esquimalt Lagoon. Grab a piping hot coffee and a muffin from a local cafe and take a long walk along the beach.
Take the time to observe the sculptures and think about what it took to craft them. Gaze at the mountains in the distance and take a deep breath of the salty ocean air. Lastly, if possible, talk to Paul and ask him about his work and what it means to him.