Charles McKay was born November 13th, 1960 in Lytton, British Columbia, Canada, which is located in the south-central region of the province. He is a member of the Interior Salish nation and takes the Eagle, revered for its great power and strength, as his family crest symbol.
Although his father, Jerry McKay, taught him the basic skills of attaining depth, intricacy and fine detail, Charles is primarily a self-taught artist. In 1972, he began his artistic career and to this day, Charles upholds a simple, yet refined quality in his artwork.
Charles is a versatile artist who enjoys the challenge of carving in a variety of media. Experienced in the use of wood, leather and antler, he has made such items as leather hair berets, belt buckles and desk objects. Recently he acquired whale teeth from which he creates exquisite sculptures with abalone shell inlay. In addition, Charles McKay and Prescott Shackelly have been collaborating to make flutes of red and yellow cedar. The teamwork of Prescott making and tuning flutes and Charles carving and ornamenting them has created a finished product like no other. Charles McKay continues to push creativity, and as such has become a collectible artist who avidly preserves his cultural heritage for future generations.
Red Cedar wood, Yellow Cedar wood, Abalone shell, Acrylic paint, Leather
The carving of flutes of the Northwest Coast extends back historically through time. The dramatic importance of the flute was indicated by the variety of specialized whistles, each of which was produced to make specific tones. Songs and dances were part fo all ceremony and ritual, a fundamental element of the inherited privilege. Equally important were the many whistles and other musical instruments that were specifically designated for most dances. Wooden whistles of one, two or three shafts, each with several holes and reeds produced a strong and clear note. Flutes and whistles were traditionally blown in the woods to introduce the cermonial season. Every instrument was the object of time, skill and concern and was considered by those who owned it as a necessary part of the family’s collection