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CELEBRATION OF BILL REID POLE

Photo by: Kenji Nagai
Photo by: Kenji Nagai
James Hart of Haida Gwaii conceived of this pole to celebrate the artistic leadership provided to him and many other indigenous artists by Bill Reid. Hart worked with Bill Reid in the 1980s on monumental works such as "The Raven and the First Men", "Mythic Messengers" and the large Killer Whale, "Chief of the Undersea World" with which visitors to the Vancouver Aquarium are familiar.

Two young Haida artists, Ernest Swanson and Bill Reid's grandson, Tyson Brown, assisted him at his studio in Masset on northern Haida Gwaii. When the carving of the pole was in its final stages, it was brought to the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver where the finishing touches were added by Hart, his son, Carl Hart and Ernest Swanson. The pole was raised on February 21, 2008.

Unique features of the pole are the large double Killer Whale fin and the Wolf's tail on the back of the Wasgo. The Raven -- trickster, cultural hero, and one of Bill's crests -- crowns the pole.

Other crests on the pole include the Wasgo, (half Wolf and half Killer Whale) at the bottom, supporting the other figures, the Wolf, emerging from the den between the ears of the Wasgo, the Thunderbird in the centre of its right ear and the Killer Whale/human in its left ear.

Between these small figures and the Raven there is a large Copper with the face of a Wolf. Hart created the Copper in his Masset studio with the help of his son GwaLiga. James Hart states the Copper is a living representation of Bill Reid and will represent him wherever it is taken.
Quick Facts:
  • The pole was carved from three old-growth red cedar trees, each over 500 years old, felled in the Yakoun Valley on Graham Island, Haida Gwaii.
  • The pole is more than one metre in diameter and stands 6.7 metres tall.
  • James and his assistants used more than 50 different tools to carve the pole.

Sponsored by:

Spirit of BC Commissioning Program, Province of British Columbia
Charlie and Gayle Pancerzewski, Mukilteo, Washington
With a contribution by James Hart
The Copper was made by James Hart with the help of GwaLiga Hart and sponsored by Richard and Nancy Self.
Bill Reid Foundation Collection
James Hart 2007
 
By Jerry Grey, Visual Artist
BILL REID: "Mythic Messengers" 1984
Illustration by Jerry Grey

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