Robert Saunders – Curator’s Choice Fall 2021

I must have been seven years old when another carver pressed a knife in my hand and helped me carve a pole in the townsite. It’s hereditary, my ancestors were master builders. When my eldest son was a baby, I put woodchips in his basket. Now he’s creating masterpieces.” – Robert Saunders

Being primarily a self-taught artist, Robert follows in the footsteps of his father Arthur and predominately carves in what he consideres to be the “wood of masters” – Red Cedar.

His work is characteristic of the Nuxalk style although he considers his designs to be a mix of both traditional and contemporary. His lines are immaculate and his use of bold colour blocking makes his pieces quite distinctive. Bella Coola blue is a traditional, signature colour used amongst Nuxalk artists and featured quite predominately in Robert’s artworks.

Of his more recent community efforts, he carved a large ocean canoe for the 2014 Tribal Journey’s Qatuwas Festival, which was paddled to Bella Bella (130 nautical miles west of Bella Coola).

Apart from his artistic endeavours, he presides as hereditary Chief of the Sutslhmc territory, which was passed down to him in 2005 from his father’s older brother. At the time, he received the name ‘XimXimlayc‘, or “Bringer of Morning Light”.

To view Robert Saunder’s entire collection in our Gallery and for more details, please click here.