While the influence of First Nations’ culture on home decor can be found in gift shops across Canada, it is in their original artwork where we find its greatest presence.
“It creates a proud sense of heritage of our country,” says Karl Lohnes, home expert for Canada AM, “What better way to display that than through the sculptures and furnishings of Native Americans?”
First Nations’ art is heavily grounded in historical tradition, where every image has a meaning, a story or a practical use. It also shifts with the times, creating new art forms and methods of expression.
“This is a living art form,” says Thomas E. Stark, curator of Out of the Mist Gallery in Victoria, B.C. “(It) has been changing long before the Western world came with its steel and trading posts.”
Whether you choose to display an intricate traditional print on your wall or buy a set of painted mugs for the kitchen, know that you’re supporting the rich and diverse artistic cultures of Canada’s first peoples.
Rock Family • Eskimo Art Gallery
With its linear faces and large areas of untouched stone, this abstract style is typical of Nunavut artist Lucy Tasseor Tutsweetok, who has been carving for 50 years. $345, Eskimo Art Gallery, www.eskimoart.com, 1-877-364-6845.
Fisherman and Bear • Eskimo Art Gallery
Made from a polished caribou antler and mounted on a piece of bone, this carving tells a story about traditional life in the Arctic. This type of physical storytelling is the specialty of carver Jobie Crow Jr., who lives in Northern Labrador. $425, Eskimo Art Gallery, www.eskimoart.com, 1-877-364-6845.
Woven Bowl Wall Art • West Elm
These woven bowls owe a lot of their design features to the rich tradition of basketry in North American aboriginal cultures. Medium weave, $39; small weave. $36; big swirl weave, $44. West Elm, www.westelm.com, 416-537-0110.
Totem Pole Cup Set • The Drake General Store
Designed by Rob Southcott and produced by new Toronto-based company IMM Living, these fun stackable coffee cups pay homage to one of the most recognized Northwest Coast aboriginal cultural icons. Set of four for $82, Drake Hotel General Store, www.thedrakehotel.ca, 416-531-5042 ext. 101.
Eagle Bowl • I-Hos Gallery
Noel Brown, of the Kwagiulth people of eastern Vancouver Island, carved this bowl out of yellow cedar. The eagle symbolizes wisdom and friendship. $977.50, I-Hos Gallery, www.ihosgallery.com.
Eagle Paddle • Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery
Although perfect for setting above a mantle piece, artist Kevin Cranmer, of the Kwakwaka’wakw Nation, shaped this yellow cedar paddle, with inset abalone shell and copper, to propel a canoe. $3,700, Coastal Peoples Fine Arts Gallery, www.coastalpeoples.com, 604-685-9298.
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