Sunday, December 3, 2017

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas at Madrona Gallery by Philip Willey - Dec. 2017.


A solo show by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas in Victoria is long overdue. Michael Warren of Madrona Gallery agrees but the problem he says is getting a body of work together. Yahgulanaas’ work is in much demand all over the world and Madrona are lucky to have at least one painting and some drawings to show. They are also lucky to have Ottilie Short, a student of Yahgulanaas at UVic, behind the desk to talk about him.

Yahgulanaas is a very active artist. He has had numerous travelling exhibitions and his work can be seen in public spaces, museums, galleries and private collections across North America, Europe, Asia, Australia and the Middle East. He works in a variety of forms and media. He also teaches, gives talks, writes books, sits on the board of the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and manages various trusts. His illustrated books include ‘Flight of the Humming Bird’ and ‘RED: A Haida Manga’.

With his prodigious energy and output he is actively expanding the audience for First Nations art. He achieves this by fusing traditional elements with contemporary phenomena, intricate paintings for instance that combine Japanese Manga comics with Chinese brushwork that he learned from Cantonese master Cai Ben Kwon, and Haida motifs.

It’s a hybrid art form that reflects his own background, Yahgulanaas has both Haida and European heritage and is descended from Isabella and Charles Edenshaw. He was born in Prince Rupert and grew up on Haida Gwaii where he was involved in community service for many years before finding time for art.

A series called ‘Coppers from the Hood’ perfectly demonstrates the artists’ cross-cultural interests and sense of fun. One piece in particular, now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York is actually a Haida motif painted on a Tercel hood. One might think that such blatant cultural appropriation would be a little controversial. Not so.  Aparently Haida Gwai locals found it quite amusing. As Yahgulanaas explains ‘car hoods are a traditional way of transporting canoes to water’.

As traditional native art becomes more experimental this kind of cultural fusion is gradually becoming the norm. The broader question of course is the extent to which indigenous people adapt to the dominant culture. Or even if they should. As Bill Reid asked in a discussion with Yahgulanaas ….is this work art or ethnicity?  It’s a serious question and the debate is ongoing. Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas seems to have found a light-hearted way of dealing with it.

Ocean Bird

Bone Box


Thursday, November 30, 2017

What a Piece of Work by Philip Wiley

Xchanges Gallery has its origins in the Signal Hill Arts Center located at Signal Hill in an unused section of the Canadian naval yards in Esquimalt. This was back in 1967 which may make Xchanges the oldest Artists’ Run Centre currently operating in Canada. Many of Victoria’s artists of the past 4 decades have been involved with Xchanges: some had their first solo exhibition there; others have given classes, been active members, and had studios there. The location has changed 4 times over the years.

In 1979 the group moved to a vast loft above Canadian Linen on North Park Street, built studio partitions and a large gallery, and was rechristened Xchanges. The organization stayed at the North Park location for 18 years, becoming a mainstay in the Victoria exhibition scene. This location was notable for intermittent subterranean tremors which most artists easily adapted to.

In 1997 Xchanges relocated to the heritage building at 420 William Street in Vic West — another converted laundry, once a bakery and its stables — and experienced a revitalization of its organization. The new premises made it possible to host events and exhibitions of different natures than had previously been possible, and the labyrinthine layout made interaction between artists more frequent, resulting in a thriving creative community.
During the months of January and February 2009, Xchanges artists transformed the former offices of their new location into spacious gallery, individual and shared studio spaces, and common areas. As in previous moves, much of the work was done by the artists themselves, in conjunction with expert tradespeople.

In February of 2009 Xchanges entered its 4th incarnation, moving to 2333 Government Street, Suite 6E. This one time motel provides a smaller and more intimate setting much closer to downtown and continues to nurture the artists and arts of Victoria to the present time as well as offering drop-in life-drawing, sculpture, and portrait sessions and other programs and events designed to enhance community interaction with the arts.

Continuing its 50 plus year tradition, the Xchanges co√∂perative hosts affordable studios for artists, as well as a non-commercial gallery dedicated to showing work by emerging and established regional artists. Many, many artists have enjoyed the facilities over the years, too many to mention individually. 

And it’s still going strong. This December the members of Xchanges invite everybody to their annual Members’ Exhibition and Open House.

The exhibition opens on Friday, December 1st, 7:00–9:00 PM
Studio Open House: Saturday, December 2nd, 12–4 pm
Exhibition continues: Sunday, December 3,
SaturdaySunday, December 9–10, 12–4 pm.

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas at Madrona gallery

Madrona Gallery is excited to introduce Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas, an award-winning visual artist, author and speaker. His work is collected internationally, including the British Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Seattle Art Museum and Vancouver Art Gallery. Large sculptural works by Yahgulanaas are part of the public art collection of the Vancouver International Airport, City of Vancouver, City of Kamloops and the University of British Columbia. His publications include national bestsellers Flight of the Hummingbird, RED: a Haida Manga and the upcoming War of the Blink.

Yahgulanaas' artwork transcends traditional notions of Northwest Coast art. The descendant of iconic artists Isabella Edenshaw, Charles Edenshaw and Delores Churchill, Yahgulanaas' early training was under the exceptional creators and master carvers of Haida Gwaii. He incorporates his background in traditional Haida art with Asian influences such as Chinese brushwork and Japanese manga comics to create what he calls 'Haida Manga'. A piece from Yahgulanaas' 'Coppers from the Hood' series was recently acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. The piece is currently the only work on display at the Met by a living Canadian indigenous artist.

Ocean Bird
Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas

For further information and images please contact Ottilie Short at