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A different side of driftwood

Local artist creates characters out of driftwood images
Ron Klausen created the series Driftwood Warriors photographing the wood found on beaches.

Ron Klausen sees himself as a facilitator to educate and inspire people while offering them access to…driftwood.

"I swear when people are exposed to this they will never see driftwood the same way again—ever."

Klausen is an artist and has a background in graphic art. He was an elite carver on the mainland for many years and for the past six years he has delved into a major photography project involving light and driftwood.

Klausen hikes far and wide looking for distinctive driftwood logs and takes close-up pictures in the evening when the light is just right. He shines his flashlight over the shadows and deep creases of the grainy wood while keeping his shutter open. He processes the pictures using very little photoshop techniques and then creates a mirror image of each. He puts them together and the results are mesmerising.  The photos resemble faces, profiles, creatures, animals and even aliens.

The project started with a piece that had an eerie resemblance to a warrior, found on Rathtrevor Beach. The series Driftwood Warriors began and so did Klausen's search for more characters.

"In the world of nature there's a symmetry and consistency which is so dependable it can't be overlooked," he said.

He has now taken tens of thousands of photographs and is only about halfway though the project, he said.

Four panels can be put together in a variety of different ways, each creating a unique and surprising character. Klausen said he doesn't go out looking for certain figures they just show themselves in the photographs.

People often see different things in each picture and Klausen said interpretation is in the eye of the beholder. He said he enjoys watching people's interactions when they talk about the pieces, how they light up and get excited about what they see. It moves people to use their right brain, Klausen said, which is healthy, inspiring and healing.

Klausen has mapped out a mythology, personifying the figures into characters with personalities, who each have a place in a society. The driftwood logs that sit near the edge of the water are the warriors, and the next row in are the guardians, which have more experienced faces and are less rugged. There are sounders who have wide open mouths and warn of big waves, spotters, with big eyes, spirit people, elders and even ancients.

Klasuen has big plans for the project, he has produced fridge magnets with interchanging panels, and would like to create more to sell them. He wants to hold an exhibition of his work at some point and create a book, but will be looking for sponsorship to bring his ideas to fruition.

To check out some of Klausen's warriors make an appointment at Monk Art Gallery and Studio in Parksville by calling 250-248-8189, contact Klausen by emailing or call 250-248-5401.