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Eagle, Killerwhale, Chief with Copper, Bear with Salmon
64 x 26 x 12"
Coast Salish (Tsawout) Nation
Coast Salish (Tsawout) Nation
Tom LaFortune is a member of the Tsawout First Nation whose ancestral connections reside in the southern part of what is now known as Vancouver Island. Tom completed his first carving when he was just 11 years old, and has advanced to carving masks, rattles, paddles, dishes, talking sticks, single figures and totem poles. He has also made and painted drums. Tom’s work is often distinguished by its stylistic fluidity and refined use of color.
Tom LaFortune’s works can be found in collections worldwide; most notably his totem poles. These include Harvest Time and Owl Spirit poles completed for Duncan’s City of Totem project, a commission by CBC which was featured on television coverage of the 1994 Commonwealth Games, a single owl figure overlooking the Ross Fountain at the world famous Butchart Gardens in Victoria, S’ael, a twenty-five foot pole completed as part of Royal Roads University’s 75 years of changing lives celebrations, and a Salish arch for the Fort Rodd Hill National Historic Site.
Tom lives with his partner, Doreen, in the Victoria area, close to his two sons and daughter and a large extended family.
Bone, Abalone shell, Cedar bark, Woven Leather cord
Commonly used by a Shaman, soul catchers were used to cleanse human souls and spirits. If a person was sick, or perhaps possessed by a demon spirit, the soul catcher was used to coerce the evil spirit out of the body. The open ends were caped with cedar bark to hold the soul until it was cleansed and brought back from the spirit world. The healed soul of the recipient was then returned to the body by the Shaman by blowing through the soul catcher and into to the patient’s mouth.
The shape of the soul catcher is typically cut from animal bone in such a way that the ends are flared outward and the surface is carved with figures associated with the Shaman’s spirit guides. Spirit guides accompany the human spirit or soul on its transformative journey between worlds. The ends of the Soul Catcher were sealed to contain these spirits. They also protect the boundaries between the physical and spiritual world, keeping those involved in the healing ceremony safe from evil minded spirits and beings. The symmetrical arrangement of the figures essentially defines objects of this type and the figures tend to more sculptural in appearance.
Soul catchers are extremely powerful and respected healing instruments; because of this, they were often housed in special bentwood boxes to keep them safe.
Derek White’s extraordinary Beaver & Eagle Fish Bowl, created in the traditional Haida form and utilizing the ancient technique of repousse to add dimension, demonstrates his articulate master carving and artistry skills. Containers such as bowls were traditionally created out of Cedar or Alder wood and utilized in daily life. The chosen medium of silver serves as a contemporary progression of this ancient art form while illustrating the intricate foundational links which combine cultural heritage with the arts.