When it comes to artistic flair, it’s safe to say it runs in the Westnedge family. That’s why four of the family members are being featured in the Art by the Sea art exhibition, featuring 47 artists and artisans who have incorporated the sea into their work.
John Westnedge has been making driftwood furniture for about three years, but he’s been making furniture far longer than that.
“I used to make furniture when I first got married because it was cheaper than buying stuff from the store,” he laughed, adding, “and I really enjoyed it.”
Now that he’s retired he and his wife Barbara come across many interesting pieces of driftwood while traveling the Gulf Islands and together they make tables, chairs, benches and rocking chairs. John said making furniture out of driftwood is a lot different from making furniture from other materials because you can’t measure it. Each piece of wood dictates what the final product will look like, and each product is unique.
John’s son Jeff is currently creating photography and graphic design pieces, and his dad said he has always had a great imagination. Jeff said his late mother Val always encouraged art projects around the house and his dad always supported his ideas.
“I’m inspired by my family,” he said.
Jeff has taken film school training in the past and is currently in his third year of a bachelor of arts degree. He enjoys playing with time and sequence, like his panoramic images where he’ll capture a variety of activities in one shot involving the same person.
In the Art by the Sea show he has some two dimensional graphic art pieces as well as photography.
Nicky Westnedge makes a number of sea-themed pieces using items she’s found at the beach. This includes her sea glass jewelry, “Qualicum rocks” soap dishes, hot plates, door mats, flat iron mats, driftwood signs and birds, and more. She gets her materials from all over the Pacific coast and said she has been “treasure hunting” around beaches for years. She looks for special shapes and colours of objects worn by the sea to make her intriguing products.
“It sounds silly that a rock would inspire you,” she said, “but I just pick up rocks, glass and shells and we always have so much that I like to do something with it.”
Nicky’s daughter Lauren also has the creative touch and makes her own colourful, bead earrings. She said she saw her mom making earrings and thought it looked fun, so she decided to give it a try.
“I like it cause I like art and I enjoy it,” she said. “It’s fun to make.”
All four artists will have their products for sale until Sept. 17 at the Gallery at Qualicum Art Supply. Other art work found in the exhibition include two dimensional seaweed wall pieces, traditional Japanese fish prints, kiln formed glass pieces, driftwood castles and oil, acrylic and pastel paintings.