When Comox Valley resident Alex Witcombe started creating sculptures from driftwood, he had no idea his work would gain such notoriety.
His remarkable sculptures started as a hobby, but they’ve since grabbed the attention of locals and media outlets, turning a couple of British Columbia beaches into art galleries.
It all started in the summer when he was walking along Campbell River’s Stories Beach and felt inspired to create. Although Witcombe is an artist, he normally works with paint. On this particular day, however, he started working with the piles of driftwood laying on the ground in front of him. In a matter of hours, he built his first sculpture, which he dubbed “Sheila the raptor.”
“I like the gnarly pieces,” Witcombe told reporters. “Ones with character.”
His first-ever piece of driftwood art is anything but amateur, so it’s no surprise that locals took note.
“It just kind of blew up on social media a bit and was like, ‘Oh, okay cool, let’s do some more,’” he said.
With its wooden wings fully stretched, the bald eagle he built next might be an even better example of his craftsmanship.
Not only were onlookers impressed by how natural it looks, they also couldn’t believe the level of detail involved. If you get up close to the eagle, you can see that he used more than one piece of wood just to build the beak.
All of his projects began by walking the beach in search of the perfect base to start his sculpture. Then, he says, it was all about letting “the wood do the talking.”
After building his third piece, a whale calf, Witcombe and his friends realized there was some real value to his art. Based on the response his first few pieces generated, he decided to put the whale and eagle up for auction, raising money for two local causes.