A Sooke artist’s passion for wood art

Sooke artist Phoebe Dunbar finds her calling in retirement

All the little experiences we go through in life are how we find our passions.

This is especially true for Sooke artist Phoebe Dunbar, who after many twists and turns in her life revolving around her love of nature, eventually found her passion: wood art.

Dunbar grew up in West Vancouver with three siblings, John, Tim and Mary, and her two parents, David and Babs Brock.

“We lived by a beach and my father was a nature enthusiast, so he would often teach my siblings and I about the different types of driftwood floating in from the ocean,” said Dunbar.

In her teenage years, Dunbar and her twin sister would paddle out to different islands and spend days exploring the outdoors and camping.

After high school graduation, Dunbar studied social work in college where she met her husband, Bob Dunbar, and in 1979, the two moved to Sooke.

Dunbar worked as an extra-curricular coordinator for Edward Milne Community School. Through this, she helped students build longboats that are still used by the Sooke Classical Boating Society.

She explained that she enjoyed building boats, and sometimes her and Bob would go on paddling trips and carve small projects together.

“I remember the one time we carved a little a chess set,” Dunbar said.

In 1998, Dunbar retired, but it wasn’t until she took a carving class with local carver Victor Newman and tried her hand at wood art that she found her passion.

“A lot of it at the start was functional, people just wanted bowls,” Dunbar said.

She specializes in making bowls and vessels, but lately has been trying her hand at making more decorative pieces.

“It’s just this really creative space that you get into, I guess it’s kind of meditative of sorts,” Dunbar said.

She finds most of her wood supply while out on hikes or in the ditches, but also has people donate wood to her.

“My number one rule is always carry a chainsaw in your truck,” laughed Dunbar.

She often uses burrows from trees to carve the bowls, which can be anywhere from 40 to 500 years old.

“They are really ‘garbagey’ looking wood, you wouldn’t know that you can make something really beautiful out of them,” Dunbar said.

Dunbar’s favourite part about creating an art piece is sculpting and sanding where she can see it start to reveal itself.

“I usually don’t really know what I’m making until I start to work with it and sculpt it and let the wood tell me what it’s going to be,” said Dunbar. “I can’t explain it, it’s just like this atonement you have with the wood.”

She added that her passion for woodwork just found it’s way to her, and working in her studio is where she finds a lot of peace and joy.

“I’m so happy to have my carving shed, it’s very comfortable, and a very special place where I can just go and be by myself,” she said.

“Just me and my tools, it’s a very beautiful zone to be in.”

 

Just Posted

CIVIC ELECTION: Large voter turnout seen in Saanich, Oak Bay

Rec centres as polling places boosts numbers in Saanich, advance voting soars in Oak Bay

Rob Martin is the new mayor of Colwood

Martin will be joined by four new faces on council

Voters in Saanich and Victoria support creation of citizens’ assembly on amalgamation

Group will continue to keep pressure on Victoria and Saanich councils after amalgamation referendum

New faces elected to Greater Victoria school district

Twelve candidates were vying for nine positions

Victoria’s Canada Post workers to begin rotating strikes Monday

Mail will still be delivered but it will be delayed

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

B.C. Youtuber to seal himself ‘in a jar’ to demonstrate impacts of climate change

Kurtis Baute wants to see how long he can last in a 1,000 cubic foot, air-tight greenhouse

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for Oct. 19

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

POLL: Do you support amalgamation for communities in the Capital Region?

Residents in Victoria and Saanich will be voting on Oct. 20 on… Continue reading

One of Taiwan’s fastest trains derails, killing at least 18

The train was carrying more than 360 people

Scheer marks one-year countdown to federal election with campaign-style speech

Conservative Leader insists that it will be Justin Trudeau who ‘makes it personal’

B.C. VIEWS: Residents have had enough of catering to squatters

Media myth of homeless victims offends those who know better

B.C. man sets new Canadian marathon record at Toronto Waterfront Marathon

Cam Levins ran it in two hours nine minutes 25 seconds

B.C. Liberals’ hopes high as Nanaimo by-election approaches

Historically safe NDP seat vacated by long-time MLA Leonard Krog

Most Read