Photo by Doug Clement Photography

While many Vancouver Island residents are already familiar with Esquimalt Lagoon’s beautiful driftwood sculptures, many are not aware of the dramatic story behind the art pieces’ humble creator, Paul Lewis.

To capture Paul’s story, local documentary filmmakers have entered a competition to receive a $50,000 production grant to launch their project.

Fans of the driftwood birds can watch a preview of the documentary and vote for the film online here between May 28th – 31st!

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19 years ago, like a scene out of a Hollywood blockbuster movie, Paul disguised himself with a gas mask, hard hat, and construction coveralls before grabbing a loaded sawed-off shotgun to rob a Victoria liquor store.

The crime — fuelled by a drug addiction — was the last in a string of armed robberies around the city that landed him in the BC prison system for 8 years.

But Paul’s incarceration is only the beginning of this story.

While in jail, he began drawing and sketching for himself and other inmates. His art was focused around wildlife and for Paul, his images of birds represented a form of freedom.

After years of good behaviour within the system, he was released from prison and reacquainted himself with Vancouver Island, now with a renewed passion for art and creativity.

Paul’s artistic spirit is what eventually led him to building the Esquimalt Lagoon driftwood sculptures.

The massive birds have been largely welcomed by the community, with Paul often receiving notes of praise and appreciation by fans of the sculpture.

Pieces have occasionally been damaged or stolen but Paul simply repairs them, acknowledging that their public placement inevitably leads to some wear and tear, imposed either by people or the weather.

Besides the sculptures, islanders may also recognize Paul from his incredible backyard igloo creation that he and his girlfriend made during Victoria’s February snowstorms.

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If you think Paul’s story sounds crazy enough to appear on film, you’re not alone.

The local artist and documentary team creating the movie are in the running for a $50,000 production grant from Storyhive.

The competition involves viewers voting for their favourite documentaries and will run for 3 days between May 28th – 31st. Each viewer can vote for a documentary once per day, and the top 15 most popular stories will be chosen for funding.

Check out the documentary preview and take a look at Paul’s newest creation — a wooden Sasquatch in Shawnigan — below:

Took a trip up to Shawnigan and added to the sasquatch, now he is complete, he was missing the furry look I wanted……

Posted by Paul Lewis on Wednesday, May 22, 2019