Esquimalt Lagoon driftwood sculptures vandalized but artist vows to rebuild

Esquimalt Lagoon driftwood sculptures vandalized but artist vows to rebuild

WATCH: Since April, thousands have enjoyed viewing the sixteen different birds made of driftwood at Esquimalt Lagoon. But like other public art pieces on the Island, those too have now been vandalized and some even stolen. Luisa Alvarez spoke to the artist who is already rebuilding the sculptures and vows to continue.

Since April, driftwood art sculptures have graced the shores at Esquimalt Lagoon. They’ve become an attractive fixture for tourists and thousands have enjoyed viewing and photographing them.

“They are really cool to come down and see them it looks like a lot of hard work,” said Connor Morrison.

Paul Lewis is the man behind the free public art. By trade, he’s a scaffolder but after not finding steady work in Fort McMurray, he dedicated his time to building sixteen different birds from driftwood. Each took upwards of five hours to complete.

” I just kind of wanted to bring awareness to the people that come visit this place, you know, take a look around you see if you can see what I’ve seen,” said Lewis.

On Wednesday Lewis was back again with tools in hand but he is not adding to the collection this time. Instead, he’s come to rebuild after vandals stole three of the sculptures: the hummingbird, the baby osprey from the nest and the oystercatcher. Another sculpture was smashed and Lewis spent all morning fixing it.

“His head was completely ripped off, his body was ripped apart and his body was all smashed apart,” said Lewis.

As for the others, only screws and pieces of wood are left of what they used to be.

“I just think whoever does this kind of art just doesn’t know beautiful art,” said John Schoen who is visiting the Island from Pennsylvania and went to see the sculptures.

Lewis said with a little TLC, they’ll be back to their former glory.

“I did it to make everybody happy. Sure there will be a few naysayers out there but for the thousands that it makes happy to me it was worth it,” said Lewis.

The sculptures mean a lot to Lewis for another reason as well. Before art there was crime for Lewis. He was sentenced to eight years in jail for an armed robbery back in 2000 and it was art that helped his life completely change course. Now he said nothing, not even vandals, will stop him from sharing his craft.

“They can try to destroy them and ill just put them back and fix them,” said Lewis.

Contact information can be found on each sculpture and Lewis said he hopes people will contact him if any of the art needs repairs.


Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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