Robert Tait was a Nisga’a artist born in Prince Rupert, British Columbia, Canada. The Nisga’a nation inhabits the banks of the Nass River located in the northern region of the province.
Robert was born into the Eagle Clan which is considered a primary family crest among coastal Northern Nations. His elder brothers Alver and Norman are renowned carvers who greatly influenced Robert in his formative years. His brother, Alver resides in a small village near the Nass River from whom Robert received a great deal of inspiration and knowledge about his ancestry. As a result, he takes great pride in knowing his language and ceremonial traditions that helped shape his artwork. Under the guidance and tutelage of his brother Norman, Robert embarked on woodcarving in 1979 while attending a grant program established by the Arts and Crafts Society of British Columbia. After successfully completing this program, Robert progressed to jewelry carving in 1980. He enjoyed working with silver and gold to such an extent, that he continues to pursue engraving on metal over wood.
Robert developed his own style clearly reminiscent of his ancestry. He enjoyed incorporating fine detail into his designing along with achieving dimension by way of a gouging technique. He was best known for his whimsical hummingbird depictions with eloquent foliage.
Throughout his career, Robert was involved with many public commissions where he acted as one of the principal carvers. Although the projects varied, many involved carving full-sized totem poles to be raised at traditional ceremonial practices. One of the tallest poles, measured over 60 feet in height and is currently displayed at the Field Museum in Chicago, Illinois. Additionally, he assisted in carving a full size canoe that was used to travel from Prince Rupert to Kincolith, a small village off the bank of the Nass River.