Transformation Mask

Haida master Charles Edenshaw inspired modern artists

Bill Reid is known for bringing B.C. native art to the world. A new book and show celebrate the artist who inspired him, Charles Edenshaw

Doris Shadbolt’s 1986 book Bill Reid beautifully chronicles the career of Canada’s best known Haida artist, whose signature works reside at the University of B.C., Vancouver International Airport and the Canadian Embassy in Washington D.C.

French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss declared that Reid “tended and revived a flame that was so close to dying,” and lifted Northwest Coast aboriginal art onto the world stage.

More than two decades later comes a book and exhibition to recognize the artist who kept that flame alive at its lowest ebb, and passed it down to Reid and other modern masters of Haida art.

Charles Edenshaw was born in 1839 and died around 1920, after surviving the second wave of smallpox that devastated aboriginal populations along the B.C. coast.

In a foreword to the lavishly illustrated book Charles Edenshaw, Haida chief and carver James Hart describes how the young artist learned the ancient ways at a time when his culture was struggling to survive European settlement, disease and cultural domination.

“Charles still worked with his Uncle Albert Edenshaw, carving totem poles, argillite, etc., perfecting his artistry,” Hart writes. “Carving was – and is – our way of writing, recording history, showing our prerogatives, our stories, our beliefs, our religion.”

Robert Davidson, perhaps the most famous Haida artist since Reid’s death in 1998, is Edenshaw’s great grandson. Davidson and later Hart were taught by Reid, closing a circle that began when Reid learned the Haida way of carving from his maternal grandfather, who had been trained by Charles Edenshaw.

“The magic of Edenshaw’s work embodies millennia of development of Haida art,” Davidson writes in the book.

• An exhibition of more than 200 of Charles Edenshaw’s works, assembled from public and private collections around the world, is at the Vancouver Art Gallery from Oct. 26 to Feb. 2.

Charles Edenshaw, the companion book to the exhibition, is published by the Vancouver Art Gallery and Black Dog Publishing, London England.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Illicit dumping an expensive problem for Langley Township

Six incidents in three weeks have cost $60,000

Let Langley seniors centre do the cooking for Thanksgiving

The centre has a special offer of a complete turkey dinner to go. The order deadline is approaching

LETTER: Quiet Langley street feels like Indy 500 track

Drivers gunning it on her street has one local resident irked

Langley rotary volunteers take to the streets to promote lottery fundraiser

Local clubs have raised $17,000 so far for 50/50 lottery

Scheduled road closures in Langley

Some projects are scheduled to begin this week

COVID-19: 4 more deaths, 366 new cases in B.C. since Friday

A total of 8,208 people in B.C. have tested positive for COVID-19 since January

Group wants Parliament, courts to hold social media to same standard as publishers

Daniel Bernhard made the comments shortly after Friends of Canadian Broadcasting released a research paper

COVID-19 testing lineup wraps around block in Chilliwack

Testing lineup includes seniors, children and their parents as demand seems to surge

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Former worker at Surrey brewery claims he was bullied on the job

Human rights complaint to be heard against Surrey’s Central City Brewers and Distillers Ltd.

B.C. has highest number of active COVID-19 cases per capita, federal data shows

B.C. currently has 1,803 active cases after weeks of COVID-19 spikes in the province

Most Read