The power of apprenticeship and coastal legends

An intermediate wood carver test learns new skills from a legendary master carver

Master Carver Sanford Williams and intermediate apprentice Daryl Francis

Master Carver Sanford Williams and intermediate apprentice Daryl Francis

Master wood carver Sanford Williams and his apprentice Agassiz native Daryl Francis met up with The Observer to discuss the latest in wood carving and First Nations issues at Williams’ studio in Hope B.C.

Williams’ work covers a plethora of First Nations and coastal legends, and is well respected in the wood carving circles and abroad. His work includes some of the most unique and beautiful masks existing in today’s market, as well as the mysterious mythological legends that accompany various totem poles, and carvings special to his culture.

Coast Salish designs are where he gets his inspiration, and the lifelong artist, who started a love affair with carving at an early age, has evolved over time.

Through tough experiences as a Residential School Survivor, Williams’ has come out with a calm and steadfastness that has heavily influenced his work and methodology; a methodology he is imparting to Francis, who has been studying under him for over a month and half now.

“He has a willingness as an artist to teach, I’ve come across a few other master carvers, and they’re so busy, so the fact that he has time to teach is an honour,” Francis told The Observer.

Design is key, and a lot of mathematics and calculations go into the conception, and correct proportional representation of an idea, as well as the proper translation from paper to wood. Sanford sketches out his designs before carving  them into blocks of woods that come in various sizes.

“I’ve never done a scale drawing for a mask, and that’s what I’m learning with Sanford, also I haven’t done any design work before, so this a good opportunity for that.”

Different types of wood can be used and Williams’ enjoys finding the appropriate tree for his carvings. One of Sanford’s favourites is yellow cedar.

Of the inspired creations the wood carving duo were working on was a wolf healer mask, and they proudly shared the legend behind it.

“The Nuu Chah Nulth have had a unique connection with wolves for many millennia.Humans have provided food and comfort, while wolves have protected the territory that they share.

In this particular mask, a vulnerable wolf extends his paw as he looks to the human for help.  The wolf can be seen on both sides of the main profile, and in the wolf’s eye (on the left) watches the human as an instinct to protect.”

“Carvings often depict what’s going on in the culture, and an Elder Mask, is among one of the favourites,” said Francis. “We try to carve pieces that have Elders in them because they are so important in our culture.”

Francis considers himself an intermediate carver though he has had the opportunity to work with other Master carvers such as Stan Greene and George Pennier.

Predominantly working in Coast Salish style like Williams, Francis is moving towards showcasing his material in a gallery, but hasn’t had the opportunity to do so yet, and is working toward that goal, though it is not his only objective.

‘I’m looking for individuals who are willing to sit and share and talk stories,” he said of his experience with Williams.

According to Francis apprenticeship is essential to becoming a Master Carver, an art form and trade that takes years of study and practice to perfect.

Artists have traditionally been trained under other great carvers, a practice that will hopefully gain more traction, in today’s fast and modern culture.

Having the experience is also a pleasurable and cathartic feeling for the carver, who enjoys the challenge.

Francis through his uncle, started wood carving, as a way to deal with issues of alcoholism and to overcome a dark period in his life. By being tactile, imaginative and having a focus, Francis acknowledged that his life has improved immeasurably and that it has given him a purpose.

“It’s a good thing to do for my own well-being.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just Posted

(Photo/Mary-Jean Coyle)
Community Camera for June 11, 2021

Submit your photos to news@ahobserver.com

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

(Adam Louis/Observer)
PHOTOS: Students leap into action in track events at Kent Elementary

At Kent Elementary, when the sun’s outside, the fun’s outside. The intermediate… Continue reading

Kindergarten kids from Evans elementary school in Chilliwack painted rocks with orange hearts and delivered them to Sto:lo Elders Lodge recently after learning about residential schools. (Laura Bridge photo)
Kindergarten class paints rocks with orange hearts in Chilliwack for local elders

‘Compassion and empathy’ being shown by kids learning about residential schools

Chilliwack potter Cathy Terepocki (left) and Indigenous enhancement teachers Val Tosoff (striped top) and Christine Seymour (fuchsia coat), along with students at Vedder middle school, look at some of the 500-plus pinch pots on Thursday, June 10 made by the kids to honour the 215 children found at Kamloops Indian Residential School. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
Chilliwack students make hundreds of tiny clay pots in honour of 215 Indigenous children

‘I think the healing process has begun,’ says teacher about Vedder middle school project

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: B.C. family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

Most Read