Birds of a Feather

Local logger looks to new career path working in a different way with wood.

As he grew older, nature’s awesome swirls, curves and perfection impinged itself more on Seeley’ consciousness. “I just became more enamored with the beauty of nature and in my own modest way wanted to replicate it,” he says.

“Eagles seem to draw me particularly and I feel a great affinity with them. I know the First Nations’ people feel that way too. To me they’re magnificent birds. I look at so many photographs of them—that’s where I got the inspiration for my latest work, the one with the salmon in its talons. I saw a photo and just knew I had to try and make one like that.”

Seeley is not without awareness of the irony of someone in the logging industry having such reverence for nature.

“I’m really conscious of the fact that despite my love for the natural world all around me, I’m part of the problem,” he says. “It’s the dilemma many people are caught in. We have to provide for our families and for me, it’s the only way I know how. My dream is that I can support us by my artwork and let go of being a boom-man, or only do that periodically, rather than the other way around, the way it is now.”

He pauses to reflect on the life’s changes, then continues. “I’ve had so much joy from my artwork and felt myself grow as a human being, expanding my horizons,” he says. “It’s wonderful. I just met a stone carver, Chris, from Quadra Island and he’s another person I’m now working with. I believe that god has given each of us a gift, and we may not know it, but it’s in there.”

Seeley doesn’t feel he has many stresses in his life, or problems he has to solve. “Being sober took away 90 per cent of my problems,” he says. “My dad died an alcoholic—he was a logger too. Naturally, he didn’t have any hobbies—most alcoholics don’t as drinking is their hobby. I didn’t meet him till I was 17 years old; my mom brought us up on her own, struggling on welfare. She did a wonderful job too. We were given such a good sense of self, of our self-esteem, all thanks to my mom.”

Perhaps it’s also thanks to his mother that Seeley has inherited an artistic talent. On the wall of his home hang two pieces of art by his mother—one is a delicate pencil drawing of a native canoe under sail that manages to express the strength and solidity of a wooden canoe cutting through the ocean. The other is a hauntingly beautiful face of a South American Indian that holds pampas grasses in the hollow head. It is made of clay and about a foot and a half long.

“I just feel so fortunate in my life,” says Seeley. “I’ve got a wonderful family and this work that inspires me and sustains me.”

Seeley is excited about the upcoming Original’s Only art show, August 9 & 10 at Marina Park in Comox. He will be working on his latest carving of the free-standing eagle at the event.

“It’s going to have its mouth open, squawking,” he says. “I’ll be working with my dremel, a work tool specifically for fine working. That’s the most common tool I work with—it has lots of little bits that can be attached, and I use it for sanding too.”

“I feel so incredible grateful to be alive,” Seeley adds, smiling. “I wish I could live for another hundred years, there are so many exciting projects I’d like to finish—or at least start.”

For more information, visit Wes Seeley’s web site.