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Warlus tusk, Yew wood, Abalone shell
Only 1 available
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- Additional Information
- Artist Bio
Warlus tusk, Yew wood, Abalone shell
“The Haisla call the skatefish Bag°ana. It’s a creature that lives in the deep, dark waters of the ocean and is seldom seen except by fisherman. It is an intriguing and mysterious creature with a very streamlined, sculptural shape. A young skatefish’s wings have a circular spot, encircled by a fine line, which has been credited with the beginnings of the famous Pacific Northwest Coast Ovoid. I believe the circle shape evolved further by elongating due to the influence of the white eyespot patch of an orca and the ovoid-shape of a skull’s empty eye-sockets. So this tiny sculpture’s back features an orca, while the front has a skatefish and human skull. Just below the Bag°ana, is a single Flicker-feather, which has been credited with the invention of the Split-U.”
-Lyle Wilson, 2016
|Dimensions||4 x 2.5 x 1.25"|
Born in 1955, Lyle Wilson is a Haisla artist from Kitamaat Village, which is near the town site of Kitimat, British Columbia, Canada. The Haisla Nation is often referred to as Northern Kwakwaka’wakw; however, their historic artistic style has influences from various sources – notably Kwakwaka’wakw and Tsimshian, as well as developing distinctive qualities of their own. The name Kitamaat means, “People of the Snow” and refers to the large amount of snow received by this region. Tsimshian people visiting the Haisla people in mid-winter arrived to see people emerging from big houses completely buried by the snow so the name Kitamaat seemed an appropriate description.
The Haisla Clan system is matrilineal and although he was born into the Beaver Clan, Lyle was formally adopted into his father’s Eagle Clan. Due to the high death rates at this time, his Eagle grandmother formally adopted both Lyle and his sister to help ensure the continuation of the Eagle Clan. This was a small but important event, which helped shape Lyle’s view of Haisla culture.
Lyle was always conscious and appreciative of Haisla art, which was present in his formative years. In this regard, his first artistic influence was his uncle, Sam Robinson, who is a full-time carver. Fascinated, Lyle watched him and occasionally whittled to the best of this abilities. He did not pursue art as a possible profession until he attended the University of British Columbia. At this time, he committed to a career in art education, but found time spent in the studio more compelling – eventually leaving to pursue his own artistic interests at the Emily Carr College of Art and Design. He graduated with a diploma in printmaking and began to develop his individual style. This artistic style has its roots in graphics, but also envelopes his three-dimensional works in wood and jewelry.
Today, a renowned artist, Lyle works closely with University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropology where he has further pursued his interest in replicating historic Haisla art for future generations to understand and visualize. Lyle has been involved with many important private and public commissions that have aided in the awareness of Haisla art.
Additionally, he has been involved in a number of group and solo exhibitions since 1981 both locally and abroad. Some of his public commissions can be viewed at the Museum of Anthropology, BC Sports Hall of Fame, Canadian Consulate in Osaka, Japan, Canadian Institute for the Blind, EXPO 1992 and at the UBC First Nations House of Learning.
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Although Derek White’s Beaver and Bear Box is constructed from the contemporary material of Sterling Silver combined with Argillite, this box retains its traditional values through conception and imagery. Derek exhibits his mastery in his precision of line and perfect symmetry of the formline on this treasure. The gently angled lid with Abalone inlay as well as the engraved and incised elements on the box is suggestive of the prototypic bent cornered wooden boxes and chests.
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Argillite, Catlinite, Abalone shell, Mother of Pearl
This ornately detailed panel pipe inlayed with catlanite, abalone shell and mother of pearl tells the ancient story of Nanasimgit.
The man or Nanasimgit is depicted at the bottom of the pipe holding skils to represent his stature. It shows the numerous potlatches he has held. The following story is a shortened version as told by the artist, Christian White:
One day, the man’s wife was washing sea otter skins near the ocean, when a Killerwhale arose from the surface. It coaxed her into the water and carried her seaward while her husband watched in disbelief. Without hesitation, he quickly decided to follow them until the Killerwhale dove near a two-headed kelp, which prevented him from going any further. He was feeling quite distraught as he returned back to the village but by then he had decided to seek the help of his uncle, the Frog.
The Frog offered him advice on how he could get his wife back and suggested that he take specific objects with him for his journey. He brought spruce root twine, a gimlet and medicine, placing them in his canoe. But, before he embarked on his journey, he was urged to undergo a fast in order to cleanse his body, which involved various rituals.
Once the fast was completed, the man embarked on his quest until he came across the kelp he had encountered before. He tied his canoe to the kelp along with his possessions and climbed down beneath the surface to find himself in another world. He followed a path where he encountered three blind women that resembled Geese. He used his medicine to cure two of the women while the third one chose not to accept the medicine. The cured women vowed to repay him for his deed. As he proceeded onward, the man came across two slaves, from the Killerwhale clan, chopping wood. As they proceeded to chop the wood, the head of their axe fell off and they began to cry knowing the consequences they would face from the Chief. The man stopped to assist them and in return they directed him to his wife’s dwelling. The slaves warned the man of the watchmen pole that stood in front of the longhouse protecting the inhabitants. The watchmen had the ability to scent out and watch out for intruders.
While he proceeded further on his path and thought about how to divert the watchmen, the man encountered a Heron repairing a canoe without success. The man stopped to offer him his gimlet to successfully repair the canoe. In return for his generosity, the Heron helped conceal the man under his wing blanket from the Black Whale guards and the watchmen. He successfully entered the longhouse to happily find his wife. At this point, the watchmen discovered the man taking his wife back with him, but were unable to stop him.
When the man arrived back with his wife to his village he felt a different connection with her, as though she was not herself. At night, he would keep her in a bentwood box, but one morning when he awoke, to his surprise she escaped. She left to be with her Killerwhale family and fully transformed into a Killerwhale. This was the last he saw of her.
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Sterling Silver; Repousse, Engraved
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.
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“As kids, we chased after butterflies (Monarch, Painted Lady, Swallowtails, etc.) despite an elder telling us they were once considered ‘souls of dead.’ Of course, we were too young to pay attention to that concept, but with the passage of time, my memories of all those beautiful Lalag°ada (butterfly) tugged at my ‘muse.’
Traditionally, a Lalag°ada meant different things to different Pacific Northwest Coast groups: companion, messenger, savior, supernatural spirit. To me, it’s a pleasant memory from a less complicated time.”
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“For this series, the inspiration came from thinking about the eyespot markings on the wings of young skatefish; as such markings are credited with the beginning of the famous Pacific Northwest Coast (PNC) Ovoid. The original markings are solid black spots, encircled by a fine line.
I wanted to use the same circular format as a young skatefish’s markings as traditionally as can be, but with variations on each face. There’s a strong ‘pull’ that keeps an artist coming back to the more traditional, straightforward depictions of PNC faces. To those of us who grew up hunting, gathering and fishing, I think such a ‘pull’ is connected to that traditional upbringing; and that sort of familiarity makes us want to go back, just to remind us of our roots again.”
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