After spending six years in Montreal honing his skills, Sooke sculptor Charlie Wainman came home to live his dreams of making art for a living.
“(Art) was pretty much my one really good talent,” says Wainman, who dropped out of Edward Milne Community School in Grade 10.
Working as a cement finisher and then a tree planter for many years, the youthful-looking 39-year-old has struggled with arthritis since he was 25. He reached a point where he had to make a choice about an alternate career.
“I planted a million trees,” he says. “That’s what messed up my body.”
In 2000, Wainman decided to try his hand at sculpting.
“I started with decorating raves using large papier-mache sculptures like mushrooms and that.”
In 2002 he felt like he needed to be in a bigger market to fine tune his craft and moved to Montreal, where he got his first big break. He got a chance to work on a film and learned clay sculpting on the job.
“They wanted a little figurine with a dragon bursting out of a woman’s chest so I did that out of clay. I didn’t know anything, I never sculpted (clay) before in my life, said Wainman.
“They liked it and it was in the movie, and that’s when I first fell in love with three dimensional sculpture.”
After that, Wainman got a job with a restaurant chain in Montreal called Le Monde where he earned a contract to create sculptures of gargantuan proportions.
“I spent basically two months sculpting these eight-foot tall styrofoam dancers to put up on this almost gymnasium style wall. They actually looked small up there, that’s how big it was.”
He began to earn a reputation for himself, and eventually was able to return to Sooke and make a go at his own lawn and garden sculpture business. He has spent the last two months working at producing prototypes to market to local stores, and he just worked out a deal with Capital Iron in Victoria to carry his creations.
Born in Toronto, Wainman has lived in Sooke for most of his life and calls it a “magical place” where he draws much of his inspiration. He said his professional goal as an artist is to be commissioned by the district to make a bronze statue for the town square.
You can find his products every Saturday at the Sooke Country Market on Otter Point Road, and on his website at www.charleswainman.artworkfolio.com. He will also be at the Sooke Christmas craft fair selling tree ornaments during the holidays.