“Tree Snag” public art by Douglas Coupland installed in West Vancouver

A new piece of public art by artist, writer and West Vancouver resident Douglas Coupland is about to be unveiled in Ambleside.

Inspired by beachcombing, driftwood, a perfect day, as well as Coupland’s friendship with the late artist Gordon Smith, “Tree Snag” is currently installed in the public plaza of the Grosvenor Ambleside Building on Bellevue Avenue.

Coupland came up with the idea for the piece — which stands 30 feet tall and 30 feet wide and weighs nearly 16,000 pounds — several years ago after seeing a spectacular piece of 1960s fir driftwood that Smith had collected and kept at his residence in West Vancouver.

This week, crews have been busy installing the part, which includes four layers of resin and fiberglass as well as aerospace-grade platinum paint, at the site. The installation should be completed in the next few weeks.

The addition of ‘Tree Snag’ completes a quartet of projects Coupland started in the Ambleside area years ago, with public art works ‘Float Stack’ (2018), ‘Whale Vertebra’ (2018) and “Deer Vertebra” (2020) already installed around the Grosvenor Ambleside property.

The entire series of artwork reflects a day of beachcombing in Haida Gwaii between Coupland and Smith, where the duo collected derivative materials, such as fishing floats and other beach ephemera. Coupland set out to capture that spirit – as well as the spirit of the beach and enjoying Ambleside Beach as a child – when he was approached by Grosvenor for the public art project.

The two-building, 98-unit Grosvenor Ambleside project was approved by West Vancouver District Council in 2014.

“The concept of walking around and encountering these ‘derivative forms as if on a beach’ is to recreate a favorite pastime for many West Vancouverites – the beach along the shores of Ambleside”, according to a press release for the new work.

Coupland, who rose to fame with the publication of his first novel, “Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture” in 1991, grew up in West Vancouver and still resides there. He is also a well-known visual artist who has contributed to public art projects and curated numerous art exhibitions in galleries and museums around the world.