Local sculptor Pavel Barta admires his latest bronze creation: a breaching humpback whale. Twelve of the sculptures were produced to recognize and celebrate Campbell River’s Local Heroes next week. Photo by Mike Davies/Campbell River Mirror

‘We are all on a journey’

Local Hero Awards celebrate community members making a positive difference

From Prague, Czech Republic, by way of B.C.’s Cariboo region, then to North Vancouver, and finally landing at 262 Island Highway in Campbell River about three years ago, Pavel Barta is hoping he’s found his permanent home and is showing he very much wants to be an artistic part of the community.

After leaving his life as a graphic designer with a publishing company, Barta fell in love with creating sculpture. Beginning with small, handcrafted clay figures, he quickly scaled up, and now produces large bronze and fibreglass outdoor sculptures, as well.

Most recently, however, he was given the honour of creating the award statue for the Campbell River Mirror’s Local Hero Awards, so he had to dial back on the scale of what he normally does.

“They said somewhere around 10 inches or so,” Barta says, “but I still wanted it to have a lot of movement, because that’s what I like to do: give everything – even things that don’t move at all – as much visual movement as I can.”

So he settled on the breaching humpback whale as the imagery for the piece, because, to him, it perfectly represents and captures what he loves about his new community.

“We are in paradise,” he says. “And when you see these whales out there on the water, it truly reminds you of that.”

Not only that, the whales represent what he sees in the award nominees.

“We are all on a journey,” he says. “These people aren’t going to just take this statue and sit back and be done. They will continue along their journey, just like these whales we see going by. They don’t stop. They keep going along their way, being who they are and doing their thing. Being beautiful.”

The Local Hero Awards, presented by the Campbell River Mirror and Marine Harvest, will take place next Thursday evening, May 31 in a reception at the No. 1 Fire Hall downtown. The awards recognize some of the many people in our community who have a positive impact on those around them.

Nominations were collected from the community in various categories earlier this year in categories ranging from “Community Builder” to “Courage and Bravery” to “Environmental Leadership” to “Emergency Services” and more.

Finalists for each award were selected by a panel of community members from various sectors, and the 12 winners will be announced at Thursday’s ceremony. There they will each be presented with one of Barta’s bronze whales in recognition of their excellent work in making Campbell River the place we all love.