During our travels, we have connected to fascinating artists. For us, they are the real deal – all very much in touch with their emotions, art, culture and nature. To be honest, most of them are the nicest people you will ever meet. At some point in life they have chosen to express themselves by means of native art – to tell their stories. Life’s experience has led them to the place they are now. And they like to pay it forward – passing on culture and craftmanship. Some participate in educational programs to involve future generations with native culture. But almost all of them train new young artists. Sharing inner wisdom – being future-proof. They proudly present their stories and art, to you! Learn more about our favorite artists below.
Roy Henry Vickers
Roy Henry Vickers (1946) is an accomplished First Nations artist raised atthe northwest coast of British Columbia, Canada. Roy is a past president of the Northwest Coast Indians Artist’s Guild. He is currently living in Hazelton, Canada, BC. Roy was raised in Kitkatla, Hazelton and Victoria. You may say he has returned to his roots. The Village of Hazelton is a small town located at the junction of the Bulkley and Skeena Rivers, nestled at the foot of Stigyooden (Roche de Boule Mountain).
Roy was born on the Nass River. His mother, an English schoolteacher on the island, thought there was plenty of time to reach the hospital on the main land, but she was wrong. His birth came sooner than expected. Roy attaches a lot of symbolic value to this remarkable start of his life.He always feels great on water and loves to go on fishing trips to experience more of nature. His art is strongly influenced by the magnificent natural beauty of this area as well as his mixed heritage. His father is of Tsimshian, Haida and Heiltstuk ancestry, while his English mother was adopted into the Eagle clan at Kitkatla.
Developing his own distinctive style, Roy’s work – which encompasses prints, paintings and carvings – includes many elements of traditional art, while he effortlessly fuses both the old with the new and the personal with the universal.
Over the years, the Province of British Columbia has gifted Roy’s art to visiting heads of state, including Queen Elizabeth II and Bill Clinton. In 1998 Roy has received the Order of British Columbia. And in 2003 he received theQueen’s Jubilee medal. Roy has even been nominated for a Grammy. Roys work for the Grateful Dead album cover was recognized by the Grammy organizationand nominated.
On our first journey to Vancouver Canada, we met Roy in Tofino. In Tofino he operated the ’Eagle Aerie’gallery- He designedand decoratedthis gallery himself. His brother helped him with the wooden walls of the gallery- Roy turned out to be an inspiring person for us. He is beautifully close to his emotions. For us, this is also the power of his way of telling stories. His stories are the onset of his art. You don’t just want to listen, you just have to listen. It affects you and so does his art.
We kept in touch with Roy over time. When we at Moedhart decided to start our own gallery it seemed logical to ask the man, who inspired us, to design our logo.
Ben Davidson (1976) is a Haida artist who uses his traditional knowledge of Haida design to create innovative and unique contemporary pieces which are sought after by discerning collectors around the world. Although he specializes in wood sculptures and jewelry, Ben also creates two-dimensional designs and has recently become interested in exploring new techniques.
Ben’s Haida name is tlajang nang kingaas meaning “the one who is known far away.” As the son of internationally renowned Haida artist, Robert Davidson, he was immersed in the Haida art at a very early age. Ben began carving at the age of sixteen, eventually completing a four-year apprenticeship with his father. He has also worked with other artists such as Reg Davidson and John Livingston. In addition, Ben has demonstrated a strong commitment to the future of Haida art by volunteering his time to work with younger artists. As a member of the traditional Haida dance group, the Rainbow Creek Dancers, his dedication to the revival of Haida culture moves beyond the realm of art. Ben is one of the original members of this group and his experience enables him to continually explore the symbiotic relationship between the ceremonial and contemporary roles of Haida art. His work has been displayed in various multi-artist shows, public spaces, and his gallery (All About Us) on Haida Gwaii.
For us, Ben is a heartwarming family person. Although he is always busy (with his artwork or riding his bike), he always makes time for others. He can regularly be found at charity initiatives and he designed an art piece for a local hospital. Besides all this he still manages to run his business well. We can really depend on him.
Ben honours his culture and history and ensures innovation within the art form. We believe Ben will keep providing creative surprises. Moedhart is very honored to present him in Europe.
Cole Speck (1991) grew up in the ‘Namgis Reserve’ in Alert Bay, BC. His traditional name is A’Walas K’anis. Although he is quite young compared to his peers, Cole has been carving for over a decade now and has had the opportunity to work with several expert artists.
Cole was master carver Beau Dick’s main protégé, before Dick’s untimely passing in 2017. Cole has studied under Wayne Alfred, but finds that his work is also strongly influenced by Marcus Alfred, Bruce Alfred, and Aubrey Johnston.
While Cole works very hard and has many accomplished teachers. His artistic skill comes naturally. Cole is the great grandson of the late Chief John Speck of the Tlowitsis, who was the father of the late Henry Speck Sr.
Cole has a long family heritage with strong cultural and artistic roots. These are heavily reflected in his carvings. He respects his heritage and maintains traditional stories, values, and aesthetics in his art, while also allowing contemporary styles to influence his pieces.
Cole’s natural talent and achievements did not go unnoticed. He was asked to assist Beau Dick in carving the Pat Alfred Memorial pole in 2010 in . And in 2012, Rande Cook selected Cole to help him carve a pole for a Northwest Coast exhibit which was also displayed at the Museum Volkenkunde in Leiden in the Netherlands. In 2013 his work was included in the Bill Reid Gallery’s RezErectexhibition in Vancouver and in 2014 one of his pieces was included in the UBC Museum of Anthropology’s Claiming Spaceexhibition.
He is an rising artist in the Northwest Coast art market and his art is in high demand. Cole differs himself by experimenting with different painting techniques. His life experiences are bound to ensure that Cole will have an outstanding artistic career, which he deserves.
When we see Cole’s work, we only see potential. This always smiling man is rich in stories. Stories from his ancestors, his culture but also from his own life. Cole survived a major car accident that turned his life upside down. Cole has an enormous drive to create and nothing will stand in his way. We can only have the deepest respect for that.
Gerry Sheena (1964) was born in Merritt, British Columbia, Canada. He is a member of the Interior Salish Nation which inhabits the southern region of the province of British Columbia. Gerry takes the Bear as his family crest symbol. Bear is one of the most prevalent family crest figures. It is symbolic of strength, motherhood, and a guardian figure. The bear has humankind qualities, e.g. physical characteristics like the ability to stand on two legs and nurturing young. But there is also a legend story about a First Nations chief’s daughter fell in love with and married a Bear. She gave birth to twin bear cubs and was known as the Bear Mother. This happening created the close relationship between Bears and humans, according to the story. In general you can say the feeling of kinship makes Bear a link between human and animal kingdom (nature).
Bear is associated with supernatural, because he is savage and has great strength. Bear is seen as a guardian and a protector (of family and of the animal kingdom). He can help spirits of warriors (leaders) for instance with courage and strong will. There is a contrast with beer. He is the protector of family, but he is also an independent einzellganger. Bear can even seem distant with little need for fellowship.
Gerry began his carving career in 1988. Both Henry McKay, an artist who is a member of the Nisga’a Nation, and his brother, Roger Swakium, were instrumental in teaching Gerry the basics of carving wood. Gerry is a versatile artist who carves ceremonial masks, rattles and totem poles. You can see his depth and his attention to detail in all of his art. Gerry uses alder, red and yellow cedar wood as his preferred mediums.
He attended the fine arts program at Langara Community College for a two year term as well as Emily Carr School of Art for an additional two years. Gerry also took a jewelry making course at Vancouver Community College. Since 1998, Gerry has been mentoring young artists while creating works of public art himself. Among these projects are the gateway for the Collingwood Neighbourhood House and a 21-foot totem pole for a housing complex in Vancouver, BC.
In 2017, Gerry became an artist-in-residence at Vancouver’s Skwachàys Lodge. Gerry is currently the artist in residence in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, a position he will hold until 2021.
Gerry has led a turbulent life. Gerry has gained new insights in his life; his inner truth. He now leads a simple and withdrawn life, where everything revolves around being grateful and content with everything in life. For us, he is a generous and proud man who is really passionate about carving the BIG pieces (like totem poles).
Trevor Angus (Tka’ast)(1970) grew up in the town of Kispiox, British Columbia. Trevor carved his first plaque in fourth grade under the instruction of Victor Mowatt. Daniel Yunkws was also a teacher of his during this time. His school craft teacher inspired him enormously. He pointed out the potential in Trevor’s work.
Trevor completed three years of training at the Gitanmaax School of Northwest Coast Indian Art at ‘Ksan in Hazelton, BC. He studied under Gitksan master carvers Ken Mowatt and Vernon Stephens, and spent six weeks in training jewellery with Art Wilson. Trevor has also worked with Haida artist Shawn Edenshaw and Nisga’a artist Robert Tait.
In 2013 and 2014, Trevor completed the Northwest Coast Jewelry Arts program at Vancouver’s Native Education College, learning repoussé and stone-setting techniques. He learned engraving techniques from renowned Gitksan jeweller Phil Janzé, engraving silver and gold jewellery.
Trevor is one of the best in the design and carving. He makes plaques, ladles, panels, masks, rattles, paddles and bentwood boxes. But his career could have taken a completely different turn. Trevor worked as a social worker for the first 10 years of his profession life. Making art was more of a hobby of him. But there was negativity in his live and he felt he had to follow a different path.
It was then that he decided to turn everything around in his life and he dedicated his life to art.
With the support of his wife, he had the guts to take a big risk and quit his paid job and turn his hobby into his new full-time job. And we are grateful for his choice. Trevor never regretted his choice, but he admits that it was difficult to build a name in the established order.
Trevor does not distinguish himself in terms of storytelling. Trevor’s uniqueness is in his composition of his art. He is very talented and creative with how he displays symbols and totem spirits. He is working on new types of jewelry design techniques, employing laser engraving technology to make beautiful and intricate designs for wearable art pieces.
Gus Cook (1982) became interested in the art and history of his people through cultural programs in elementary school. Later on, under the direction of his cousin Rande Cook, he discovered repoussé, an old European technique which involves working a sheet of metal from the reverse side in order too produce three-dimensional forms. Taking time to hone his skills, Gus has applied the repoussé technique to jewellery, sculpture and mixed media pieces such as rattles and masks.
Working with metal in this way allows Gus to push the boundaries of Northwest Coast metal art and jewellery, as well as innovate in his approach to visually representing his culture. An admirer of metalwork from as far afield as Europe and South East Asia, his own designs are inspired by First Nation legends. Most recently Gus received the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art from The BC Achievement Foundation.
For us Gus is an artist in the purest form: forever evolving, researching and finding his own interpretation within the realms of his heritage.
Steve Smith (Dla’kwagila) (1968) was born in Oweekeno Village in Campbell River, B.C. In 1987, Steve was introduced to both carving and painting by his late father, Kwakwaka’wakw artist Harris Smith (Lalkawilas). Their collaborative effort produced unique sculptures in basswood, yellow cedar and alder. Smith Steve has also worked with his brother, established Kwakwaka’wakw artist Rod Smith.
Steve introduces a very distinct style of carved works, utilizing traditional forms in a contemporary fashion. He works in a broad spectrum of works of art. His pieces include original paintings, sculptures, masks, limited edition prints, etched glass, totem poles, and drums. Every item he produces carries his marked and unique designs.
He has held multiple solo shows, participated in major exhibitions across the continent. (e.g. Museum of Arts and Design in New York and Burke Museum’s In the Spirit of Our Ancestors exhibition in Seattle), and has completed two monumental installations for the world-renowned YVR art collection in Vancouver, BC.
In early 2013, Steve underwent life-threatening heart surgery that profoundly affected his outlook on his art and his life. He was invigorated by the beauty and warmth that surrounded him, and decided to focus on capturing the moment, living in the now, and never taking anything for granted.
This emotional and spiritual challenge has resulted in a magnificent perspective on traditional and contemporary indigenous artwork. He plays with color and form in ways that allow him to powerfully bridge the gap between ancient tradition and modern art. Steve likes to experiment with positive and negative spaces in his composition. He believes both are inseparable and, together in the right balance, can create a sense of harmony.
He signs his works with his traditional name, Dla’kwagila, which means “Made to be Copper”.
Jennifer Younger (1972) is a Tlingit artist from Southeast Alaska (USA). She grew up as a member of the Eagle Kaagwaantaan clan in Yakutat, where she spent her childhood surrounded by nature and traditional ways of life. As an accomplished metal artist, she is known for her carvings and jewellery pieces, particularly in copper and silver.
Inspiration for Jennifer’s designs comes from both Tlingit crafts and traditions, as well as from natural hues and botanical elements. The technique she applies is very much of her own invention – cutting all metal by hand and often using wooden tools she has made herself to give shape to her jewellery. This results in stunning one-of-a-kind pieces Jennifer hopes will resonate with human beings all around the world:
“With my creations, my goal is to reach beyond the Northwest Coast. Reaching people across the globe will hopefully draw them into where I am from. And people will see that what indigenous people are doing is relevant today.”
Jennifer caught our attention from the outset. We’re big fans of her boundless energy and the way she surprises through the art she makes.
Lyle Campbell (1969) is a Haida Native artist who began drawing at the age of eight and carved his first piece of wood when he was fourteen years old. A former student of the Gitanmax School of Northwest Coast Art in K’san, Lyle has worked with many Northwest Coast artists, including Tsimshian artist Henry Green and Haida artist Robert Davidson.
Although he best known for his wood carving, Lyle is also skilled in other mediums and disciplines, including gold and silver jewellery, painting and print making. After taking a ten-year break from the art world, the work Lyle makes today very much reflects this period of self-discovery. His new style is characterized by bright, bold, free-flowing designs that are both playful and contemporary, while remaining true to the traditional Northwest Coast form line.
Meeting Lyle confirmed our initial gut feeling: that he is not only a talented artist but also a truly remarkable person. The warm memories combined with the energy of that first encounter have us looking forward to the beautiful objects our collaboration will surely bring.
Hollie Bartlett (1963) is a Haisla Nation artist who began crafting jewellery in 1998, following an initial career in photography. Her journey as a jewellery artist started when she took up an apprenticeship under the guidance of Master Carver Corrine Hunt. During that time, she gained knowledge in gold and silver smithery, stone setting, casting and overlay, as well as in the art of Kwakuitl engraving.
A beautiful characteristic of Hollie’s work is her ability to blend traditional themes with modern design, while her jewellery truly displays her mastery of the craft: including detailed carved motifs, fine hatching and stone insets.
In early 2020, Hollie’s jewellery received worldwide attention when her 18-carat gold whale tail pendant was presented to Meghan Markle during a charity visit to Vancouver. Hollie donated the piece – which is one of her favourites – through a local non-profit organization, honouring the Indigenous custom of welcoming special guests with a gift.
We met Hollie on one of our trips to British Columbia. Not only did we fall for her work and distinct style, we were also touched by Hollie’s infectious energy. We are deeply grateful that she has chosen to collaborate with us.