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‘There’s more wood than there are thieves’: Island artist defiant despite theft

Paul Lewis has been creating sculptures out of driftwood for years, delighting beach goers
A sculpture of a woodpecker by local artist Paul Lewis was stolen from its perch at Esquimalt Lagoon on March 23. (Courtesy of Paul Lewis Facebook)

A public art installation of a woodpecker sculpted out of driftwood was stolen from Esquimalt Lagoon after just a week on its perch.

Victoria sculptor Paul Lewis posted the theft on his Facebook page March 24, writing the sculpture had been taken over night.

The woodpecker, which Lewis installed just a week ago, also had a vandalized companion - an owl, who’s perch had been pulled up from the ground.

Lewis has been making driftwood art for Esquimalt Lagoon for years, even winning Black Press Media’s Local Hero Award in 2021 for Arts Advocate.

In fact, the owl and woodpecker were among six new sculptures Lewis installed last week, including a Belted Kingfisher, a Douglas squirrel, a Great Horned Owl and a Grey squirrel, all of which were unharmed.

The theft is disappointing, but doesn’t strip away the joy he feels when he sees people enjoying his art in their habitats. Outpourings of thanks from community members young and old keep him determined to make more, he said.

“I’ll of course make a new one to replace it like I always do - there’s more wood than there are thieves so I’ll just keep replacing them,” he said. “I just hope that whoever took them realizes they’re not just hurting me, they’re hurting the whole community here, and all the people that kid of depend on getting out and looking at these things, whether it is therapeutic for them or they just want to get out and enjoy it, you’ve just taken that away from them.”

Lewis recently donated 13 pieces to Juan de Fuca Recreation Centre, around the Gary Oak trail where they live up in the trees. Lewis said he will be adding more to honour his son, who passed last year.

“You actually gotta go hunt to find them. It is a bit to get out of your car, it is a 1.5-kilometre walk around the loop, but there are more you can go and see and enjoy there,” Lewis said.

READ MORE: West Shore driftwood sculptor inspired by Esquimalt Lagoon


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Hollie Ferguson

About the Author: Hollie Ferguson

Hollie moved to Victoria from Virginia in September 2022 with her partner Zachary and their two pups, Theodore and Bibi.
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