Transformation Mask

Haida master Charles Edenshaw inspired modern artists

Bill Reid is known for bringing B.C. native art to the world. A new book and show celebrate the artist who inspired him, Charles Edenshaw

Doris Shadbolt’s 1986 book Bill Reid beautifully chronicles the career of Canada’s best known Haida artist, whose signature works reside at the University of B.C., Vancouver International Airport and the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C.

French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss declared that Reid “tended and revived a flame that was so close to dying,” and lifted Northwest Coast aboriginal art onto the world stage.

More than two decades later comes a book and exhibition to recognize the artist who kept that flame alive at its lowest ebb, and passed it down to Reid and other modern masters of Haida art.

Charles Edenshaw was born in 1839 and died around 1920, after surviving the second wave of smallpox that devastated aboriginal populations along the B.C. coast.

In a foreword to the lavishly illustrated book Charles Edenshaw, Haida chief and carver James Hart describes how the young artist learned the ancient ways at a time when his culture was struggling to survive European settlement, disease and cultural domination.

“Charles still worked with his Uncle Albert Edenshaw, carving totem poles, argillite, etc., perfecting his artistry,” Hart writes. “Carving was – and is – our way of writing, recording history, showing our prerogatives, our stories, our beliefs, our religion.”

Robert Davidson, perhaps the most famous Haida artist since Reid’s death in 1998, is Edenshaw’s great grandson. Davidson and later Hart were taught by Reid, closing a circle that began when Reid learned the Haida way of carving from his maternal grandfather, who had been trained by Charles Edenshaw.

“The magic of Edenshaw’s work embodies millennia of development of Haida art,” Davidson writes in the book.

• An exhibition of more than 200 of Charles Edenshaw’s works, assembled from public and private collections around the world, is at the Vancouver Art Gallery from Oct. 26 to Feb. 2.

Charles Edenshaw, the companion book to the exhibition, is published by the Vancouver Art Gallery and Black Dog Publishing, London England.

 

Just Posted

Rockets host tailgate party ahead of anticipated home-opener

Kelowna takes the ice for the first game of the season Saturday

RBC donates $40,000 to help connect youth with employers

The funding goes towards helping the YMCA Connects program to prepare young adults for the working world

Kelowna city council green lights new park charge

City wants to introduce a new development cost charge to create new parks

Kelowna boy returns to school after recovering from possible Xanax OD

RCMP investigation found the drug to be a form of benzodiazepine, commonly known as Valium or Xanax

FortisBC to offer free energy efficiency assessments for small businesses

Fortis BC wants to help 900 storefronts in Kelowna, Penticton and Rossland

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Nanaimo RCMP officer ‘walks on water’ to rescue lost camper

66-year-old assisted earlier this month by Mounties who can seemingly work miracles

South Okanagan adventure park brightens seniors’ day with flowers

The many flowers that bloom in LocoLanding during the summer brighten the day for seniors

Winnipeg student, killed in bus crash, remembered as passionate, kind

University of Victoria student Emma Machado, 18, was killed in the bus crash near Bamfield on Friday

East Coast comedian Ron James bringing ‘Full Throttle Tour’ to Okanagan

James is at work on the first draft of his first book, ‘All Over the Map’

Mobile needle exchange considered in Okanagan

City looks at options to combat issues of discarded needles

Province investigating eviction at Shuswap assisted living facility

Residential Tenancy Branch looking into situation affecting low-income senior residents

Most Read