Tim Paul: Humwitsa:
Stories and Teachings

Alcheringa Gallery, Victoria
July 24 - August 15

Sea, Chief and Whale (1997),
red cedar and paint

ALCHERINGA GALLERY is presenting the first solo exhibition of work by Hesquiat artist Tim Paul. Paul has been a senior carver at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria for more than 20 years, and is known for his silkscreen prints depicting the legends of his nation, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth.

Paul's Hesquiat homeland is on the rugged, heavily forested coastline of British Columbia near Nootka Sound, where, for centuries, a seasonal structure of fishing, hunting and gathering has provided a framework for cultural activities. Like other First Nations cultures on the West Coast, spirits of the land, sea and sky are omnipresent in Nuu-Chah-Nulth rituals, ceremonies and art.

Paul's carvings are characterized by the bright, almost neon-colored acrylic paint used by 20th Century Nuu-Chah-Nulth artisans, as well with by their atypical mix of geometry with naturalism. For example, in the simple, round moon mask entitled "Ma Nul," the heads of stylized spirit creatures decorate the forehead at an oblique angle. The bodies are cropped by the top rim of the disk, which is embellished with an upright row of rounded feathers. The main facial features, beginning halfway down the mask, include a dramatic blue paint pattern at cheek level.

© Mia Johnson