The Man Behind the Log

The Man Behind the Log

Roger Cox is a skilled soapstone carver, but alcoholism keeps him homeless and living on a beach in Vancouver.

Roger Cox says he’s been an alcoholic since he was 12. He calls himself a “functional alcoholic” and that’s how at times he is able to make his art – beautifully detailed soapstone carvings of fish, eagles, whales and bears – but his habit of blowing any money he earns on booze prevents him from ever getting ahead. His current “home” is a small makeshift shelter behind a log on a beach in Vancouver, B.C.

This video by the Toronto Globe and Mail mixes still photography and video, along with interviews with Cox and a local gallery owner who calls his carvings “wonderful.”

The video shows Cox at work on his carvings at his beach encampment within view of high rise condos of downtown Vancouver. His belongings include a sleeping bag, camp chair and a tree stump which serves as a workbench for his carvings. Cox says his home on the beach is generally a soothing spot, though he describes waking up one night convulsing from the cold. With a strong Canadian accent he talks about the grim realities of life in a somewhat analytical way. He realizes he’s had a tough life, alcohol has been his downfall and living on the streets is difficult. He admits he will probably be dead in 10 years but in the meantime he gets great satisfaction from making his art.

Length: 6:21

Photography, Production, Editing: John Lehmann