Philip Janze has been producing masterpieces of Northwest Coast Art in the Gitksan tradition of his grandmother, for more than thirty years. His mediums include wood, silkscreen prints, silver and the most alluring of metals – gold.
He began working in metal after he watched Stanley George hammer out and carve silver coins in Bella Bella in 1963. The first pieces that Philip produced were engravings of Seine Boats that were tied up at the Bella Bella docks complete with the boat’s names. Philip was paid ten dollars for each coin he produced in those days.
In the years following his graduation from BCIT in 1970, Philip became serious about exploring his talents for jewelry and sought out the help of experts in the field. Though he never directly apprenticed under anyone, he spent many hours with jewelers who provided him with advice, encouragement, and support.
Philip had already been producing many quality pieces when he was invited to participate in the jewelry program organized by the Haida artist, Bill Reid and coordinated by Peter Page of the Goldsmith’s Hall of London, England. Here Philip, as well as learning specific techniques of gold jewelry from Peter, also interacted with other noted Northwest Coast artists who inspired Philip and in turn were inspired by him. The three-month program was a turning point for Philip. He was now not only able to envisage his delicate and intricate pieces, but he was fully capable of creating them.
The ensuing years have seen Philip recognized by the Canadian Jewelers Challenge on two occasions, 1982 and 1984 for creating one of the six finest jewelry pieces in Canada. He has also won top prize from the Indian and Northern Affairs Canada purchase show for his Crab Brooch. The stunning beauty of this piece only confirms Philip’s mastery of his medium. Philip has been recognized the world over for his elegant and thought provoking works of art. He is represented in public and corporate collections in Canada, the United States of America, Germany, and Japan. His art is in many of the most renowned private collections around the world. He is acknowledged as a master of Northwest Coast Art.
Philip has done many commissions for both Corporate and private sponsors. He feels that when he is creating a piece for an individual he wants “to be able to pluck their strings”. He takes his time with the pieces so that he can create a deep emotion for the recipient.
The results have never disappointed the sponsor. In November 2002, Coastal Peoples Fine Art Gallery was fortunate to have Phil contribute a Mosquito Headdress in collaboration with Walter Harris for our much-anticipated show Storyteller: Oral Tradition of the Northwest Coast.