A board from a Douglas fir edged in thick bark stands strong, bolted to a concrete base on Cadboro Bay Road, bolstered by three similar planks from three other species of trees.
Extra thick bark protects them from the fire that helps refresh the area around that stand of trees, explains artist Andrea Fritz. Her vision of wildfire etches up the plank highlighting its place in the ecosystem.
Fritz, a Coast Salish artist and author from the Lyackson First Nation of the Hul’qumi’num-speaking peoples on the west coast of Canada, strives to express her people’s history and everyone’s future with her art. That art primarily features natural events, animals, plants and habitat.
Natural Connections was her response to this year’s Oak Bay Arts Alive sculpture walk submission theme of kinship. Her mind immediately leaped to “connection” and the live-edge wood she’d just started working with.
Painted and carved on sustainably sourced wooden boards, it shows how plants and animals connect to each other and the environment. Each of the four planks represents its own ecosystem Douglas fir, Garry oak, Pacific yew and maple. Each is found on the west coast and each is threatened in different ways, she said.
Natural Connections, near Estevan Avenue and Cadboro Bay Road, is one of six works in this year’s Arts Alive sculpture walk. Each piece is on loan by the artist, and this year all are up for sale.
Oak Bay officially unveils the Arts Alive Sculpture Walk on Aug. 11, with maps potentially available as early as mid-July for self-guided walking tours. Following tradition, viewers can also vote online for their favourite sculpture – named Peoples’ Choice at season’s end. Full project details including a downloadable map featuring the locations of the artworks, sponsors, and voting information will be available online at oakbay.ca/parks-recreation/arts-culture/artsalive. The temporary public art exhibition was created by Oak Bay’s inaugural arts laureate Barbara Adams to build a legacy of permanent public art. Oak Bay now boasts 13 permanent sculptures, one mural and a series of painted pianos that go out each summer for the public to play.