This past August the first totem pole in over a century was raised by the Haida. The pole was raised to celebrate the 20th  anniversary of a pact between the Government of Canada and the Haida protecting Haida Gwaii. The pole was carved by Jaalen Edenshaw. Although I don’t know for sure, Jaalen Edenshaw is probably related in some way to Charles Edenshaw, a famous Haida artist who lived from 1839 to 1920.

Coincidentally or not, the Vancouver Art Gallery will be mounting an exhibition, Charles Edenshaw  from October 26, 2013 to February 2, 2014.  Strangely enough for an artist so renowned, this is the first major survey of his work and features examples of the full scope of work he produced which could range from miniature totem poles to platters to bracelets and jewelry.

The exhibition has more than 200 pieces and is divided into five sections which demonstrate Edenshaw’s progression as a masterly artist. It starts by showing how well Edenshaw could work within the traditional school of Haida art and ends by showing how he came to incorporate modern influences and non-traditional iconography such as elephants and snakes.

If you like Haida art then this is a must see exhibition. Many of the pieces come from private collections and the odds of them being reassembled are probably dim.

Autumn 2013

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