Andy Briggs, Phil Olson and Ken Abrams do some weekend work on their pirate ship sand sculpture as part of the Township Community Arts Council’s Sculpture Splash event in Bullen Park. The full creation is due for completion and unveiling on Wednesday, June 30. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Andy Briggs, Phil Olson and Ken Abrams do some weekend work on their pirate ship sand sculpture as part of the Township Community Arts Council’s Sculpture Splash event in Bullen Park. The full creation is due for completion and unveiling on Wednesday, June 30. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Swashbuckling scene emerging from sand in Esquimalt’s Bullen Park

Project a sequel of sorts to Township Community Arts Council’s Sculpture Splash in 2014

You couldn’t ask for a better band to assemble a 50-ton scene in the sand at the height of a heatwave than the boys at Bullen Park.

Globetrotting sand sculptors Fred Dobbs, Ken Abrams, Phil Olson and Andy Briggs have taken on the creation of a buccaneer scene for Esquimalt’s first sandcastle edition of the Sculpture Splash, sponsored by the Township Community Arts Council in partnership with the town.

A pirate ship, mermaid, sea dragon and treasure chest are taking shape in the northwest corner of Bullen Park, a four-day project due to wind up June 30.

“The idea is that the treasure chest is being sought after by all concerned; the sea dragon, the mermaid and the pirates all have a vested interest in the treasure,” Dobbs said.

The project is a sequel of sorts to the arts council’s first event, the two-day Sculpture Splash in 2014 which featured sculptors and 3D artists using a variety of mediums. Given public health restrictions, this year’s sculpting is more of a “happening” than an event, Dobbs said. Mayor Barb Desjardins will nonetheless commit a ribbon cutting following the sculpture’s completion on Wednesday.

READ ALSO: Sculpture Splash to honour deceased artist

Like their swashbuckling subjects, Dobbs and his crew take inspiration from travels around the world and over decades; the quartet has stories from Kuwait, South Korea and Taiwan. Prior to the pandemic, Dobbs had been sculpting in Saudi Arabia, which he said was windier and sometimes cooler than Victoria throughout its current heatwave.

“When you go around the world, there are all these different names that are applied to the kind of sand we’re looking for,” he said. Every region has a different term for the fine, unwashed sand devoid of rocks, with a sliver of clay that is ideal for sculpting. The sand material used for this sculpture was collected at Capital City Paving and will be used in Gorge Waterway Park following the sculpture’s erosion.

“The hope is that is that if this is a success – and I think it will be – we’ll keep sand sculpting coming back to Esquimalt,” Dobbs said.

READ ALSO: Artist creates five-foot driftwood sculpture of Takaya


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Fred Dobbs sculpts a sea dragon element out of sand in Bullen Park on Sunday. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Fred Dobbs sculpts a sea dragon element out of sand in Bullen Park on Sunday. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Fred Dobbs, left, Ken Abrams, Phil Olson and Andy Briggs stop briefly for a photo while working on their pirate-themed sand sculpture Sunday. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)

Fred Dobbs, left, Ken Abrams, Phil Olson and Andy Briggs stop briefly for a photo while working on their pirate-themed sand sculpture Sunday. (Kiernan Green/News Staff)