Welcome to Alcheringa Gallery. Leaders in Northwest Coast Contemporary Indigenous Fine Art.

Alcheringa Gallery Blog

All the latest news and thoughts from the Alcheringa Gallery team

  • In Memory of John Livingston 1951 - 2019

    John Livingston has been a friend of Alcheringa Gallery since 1993 when he acted as co - curator of the first of several exhibitions featuring the work of the Hunt family with whom he was closely associated. He assisted Chief Tony Hunt in the establishment of the Arts of the Raven art gallery in the 1970’s. This small gallery attracted the attention of major institutions globally and heightened the awareness of contemporary Northwest Coast monumental carving.
    Master carver, teacher, mentor and friend to generations of artists. His cultural knowledge was profound equaled only by his generosity in sharing this with the young people who over the years apprenticed with him.
    As a teacher he set the bar high, his gruff exterior belied a kind heart and he possessed a rare ability to orchestrate the creation of major group projects involving a number of artists sometimes across diverse Northwest Coast nations. As well as learning to carve, his students. also learned from him the value of professional behavior and entrepreneurial skills.
  • Alcheringa Gallery announces new ownership.

    Alcheringa Gallery is delighted to announce the change of ownership from Founder and Director Elaine Monds, to Mark & Mary Loria. Mark is a well known local arts and culture advocate and leader, and his wife Mary Loria is a ceramic artist and educator. Elaine, through Alcheringa Gallery, has been promoting Indigenous art and artists from the Pacific Rim including Papua New Guinea, Australia, and Canada for the past 30 years, establishing Alcheringa as one of the top Indigenous art galleries in the world.

    6. Elaine in Canoe on Sepik River

    Alcheringa is a word borrowed from the language of the Aranda people of Central Australia:
    ‘It relates to the times of the Spirit Ancestors who, in their epic
    journeys, created the land. It is the sacred past that is ever
    present. It is ongoing creation time. It is eternity touching time.
    It is the eternal now. Alcheringa (Dreaming) is not an obsolete relic
    of a faded culture. It is a dynamic psycho-spiritual system that is very
    much alive. It is an interpretation of the human condition. It states we
    live in time but not only in time, that we are derived from some
    mysterious presence that is bearing down on us. Our condition is to
    live in encounter with this all-present mystery, the Sacred.’*

    In the very literal world in which we live our daily lives it is difficult to wrap our minds around an abstraction such as the concept of the ‘Dreamtime’ but it applies equally to each of the indigenous cultures represented in the gallery.

    02 Kambot - Elaine and story boards 2Stemming from her early life experience and intimate exposure to Indigenous culture while growing up in Kenya, Elaine already had a heightened sensitivity to artistic expression based on Aboriginal spirituality. This was a fitting preparation for the work she has embraced for the better part of thirty years beginning in the early eighties with expeditions to the Sepik River of Papua New Guinea. Her passion for, and exposure to, these artists served to inspire the creation of Alcheringa Gallery as it developed to embrace other areas of the Pacific Rim, namely indigenous Australia and since the late eighties the Northwest Coast of Canada .

    Throughout her career as a curator, writer and gallery director, Elaine has supported hundreds of artists and their cultural art forms, particularly the revival of Northwest Coast art in the 1980’s and more recently with the rebirth of contemporary Coast Salish art in BC. Elaine has also championed emerging Coast Salish artists onto the national stage and has worked with some of Northwest Coast’s most pre-eminent established artists.Elaine + John at Yamok market copy     Elaine also established Alcheringa as an international space for cross-cultural experiences. Beginning in 1986, Alcheringa has partnered with many public art and academic institutions to promote and exhibit indigenous art. Hosted by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria as part of the cultural festival that accompanied the Commonwealth Games in 1993, Elaine co-curated a catalogued exhibition ‘Epama Epam’ with art work drawn from seven different areas of art creation in Aboriginal Australia.

    This work culminated with the instrumental documentary film Killer Whale & Crocodile in 2007 which brought together the stories of a Coast Salish carver and a carver from the Sepik River of Papua New Guinea. In 2009 the international exhibition ‘Hailans to Allans’ saw artists from the Northwest Coast of Canada and Papua New Guinea exhibiting together in London, UK and Victoria, BC.

    4f0dd6dc-dda1-4590-bf85-fb00a69b471c     Elaine’s decision to retire was not an easy one, given the strong relationships she created with artists, curators, and collectors. Her biggest hope is for Alcheringa to carry on its mission and continue operations in the same way - promoting and supporting contemporary Indigenous art.

    Mark Loria has been working with Elaine over the last several months to ensure the best possible transition. Mark brings to Alcheringa many years of arts and cultural leadership experience with the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Glenbow Museum (Calgary), Institute of Modern Art (Australia), and Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea. Mark has worked closely with leading indigenous artists from Australia and Canada and most recently completed two significant local public art projects with two prominent Coast Salish artists.

    Mark and MaryMark is an artist himself with a BFA in Visual Art from the University of Calgary, majoring in printmaking, and also holds an arts management certificate from Capilano University.

    Mary Loria is a local ceramic artist who holds a BA in Art History from the University of Calgary as well as studying ceramics at Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Mary is a sessional ceramics instructor in Art Education at the University of Victoria as well as the Arts Centre at Cedar Hill.

    Mark will be taking over as Director, with Elaine remaining in an advisory role effective December 1, 2018. Elaine and Mark will be working closely together especially with the introduction to artists and in their continued promotion to the public. Alcheringa Gallery operations will continue in the same way it has done for decades - with respect, creativity, and admiration for indigenous art and meaning.

    Mark and Elaine invite current artists, collectors and friends to a Holiday Open House on December 15th from 4pm to 6pm at the gallery to celebrate Alcheringa Gallery. Elaine will be unable to attend as she will be flying to New Zealand to welcome into the world her new grand baby.

    For more information please contact Alcheringa Gallery.

    Alcheringa Gallery respectfully acknowledges that we operate our business on the unceded traditional territory of the Lekwungen and Coast Salish Indigenous peoples, including Esquimalt, Songhees, and W̱SÁNEĆ First Nations.


  • A Finely Tuned Revolution

    Review by Yvonne Owens
    August 5th, 2017

    The three artists featured in the Alcheringa Gallery exhibition, ‘(R)evolving Whorl(d),’ are not only visual artists; they are also avid researchers. It is primarily the work of artists, moonlighting as scholars and historians, that has brought the profile of Coast Salish art and design back from the brink. Until relatively recently, Coast Salish artistic identity could be said to have been facing imminent cultural extinction. Cultural oblivion threatened via widespread popular ignorance of the subtle, elegant design traditions—the nuanced characteristics of Coast Salish aesthetics. This obscurity, like a prophet in his or her own land, is nowhere more apparent than on the home turf. The story of its revival is fascinating, quirky, and— like the art in this exhibit—not without its ironies.

    The artists of ‘(R)evolving Whorl(d)’ come to their visual deliberations via different paths, but all are scholars of Coast Salish cultural history and the evolution of the iconic spindle whorl design. This graceful design vocabulary is best seen in functional art—tools and household artifacts—forms that Thomas, Paul, and LessLIE have resurrected in decidedly non-traditional, entirely contemporary ways. By combining new and ancient media and materials, Traditional and Post-Modern perspectives and expressions, the artists thrust the subject of Coast Salish design into the forefront of contemporary aesthetic discourse.

    Dylan Thomas, whose passions are many but include studying World Sacred Geometry, describes his relationship to the spindle whorl, as both icon and object, thusly: “By its strictest definition, the spindle whorl is an object—a functional tool

    used by ancient cultures to create textiles—a means to an end. But as a Salish artist, the spindle whorl is more than an item. It’s the stable space at the centre of my inspiration where I learned the power of the crescent and trigon, the aesthetic nuance of symmetry, flow, balance, and movement. For me, the spindle whorl is the symbol of my culture, a lineage, the spiritual thread that connects me to my ancestors.”

    What Thomas refers to here is the traditional Coast Salish design vocabulary of the circle, the crescent, the trigon and the extended crescent. These repeated forms create the impression of constant, expansive motion. The effect is greatly enhanced when the patterns are inscribed or carved into a moving or rotating surface, as with their original uses on functional objects, like that of a spindle whorl in spinning motion. When used as stationary meditative patterns, as with Thomas’ spiritual and artistic applications, the effect is mesmerizing, mind-altering, and perhaps also (given the right circumstances and intent) mind expanding. The interplay of positive and negative space unfolds in Thomas’ works in subtle and elegant ways, typical of Salish design generally, the visual vocabulary and syntax of which works as much by inference and suggestion as by overt imagery.

    One fascinating aspect of the conversation I had with all three artists in the show had to do with what they referred to as ‘negative space literacy’—being able to read the negative and positive spaces in the designed composition as equally relevant and meaningful. With Coast Salish traditional design, and in these artists’ renovations of it, the positive and negative spaces are reciprocal, creating each other more overtly and concretely, and that says something otherwise ineffable about Coast Salish spiritual philosophy. Still more profoundly, it maps and models traditional Coast Salish cosmology. It is an understanding of connectivity—a visual language describing the dynamic synthesis, synchronous movement or symbiosis, that is at the core of all living matter and form.

    (Dylan Thomas, 'Whale Spirits' Detail, 2017)

    Thomas has consulted the historical Salish artifacts held in the B.C. Museum collection under the tutelage of artists and Elders, including LessLIE, Susan Point, Joe Wilson and others, and found an amazing consistency of abstract design principles and geometries. He has enfolded these influences within his own works, prints and paintings, informed both by his studies of sacred geometry and the works of his ancestors. In the ancient tradition of Coast Salish spindle whorl designs, Thomas creates mandala-like images for prints, etchings, lithographs, and paintings, and incorporates principles of Buddhism, Coast Salish medicine spirituality, Higher Mathematics and Sacred Geometry. In ‘Purity,’ Thomas has rendered an unfolding lotus design, a mandala radiated outward from a glowing blue-green dot. Valerie Morgan, of the Kwa-Gulth/Giksan Culture from Alert Bay, told me long ago that blue-green was the “spiritual color,” and it seems to show up here in that guise also.

    Purity Purity

    (Dylan Thomas, ‘Purity,’ 2017, painted, sandblasted wood panel)

    Thomas has also created a faithful homage to a particular historic piece in the B.C. collection for this exhibit, with his painting, ‘Harmony’ (acrylic on canvas, 24” X 24”). The design, with elongated crescents, symmetrical crescents, trigons, confronted trigons forming diamond shapes, ovals, and circles from the traditional Coast Salish design lexicon, is profoundly modernized and contemporized by virtue of its pastel palette of modulated, complementary hues and its medium—acrylic paint on canvas.

    Dylan Thomas Dylan Thomas

    If there is a quality shared among all of LessLIE’s contributions in this show, it would have to be described as essentially Romantic. In small, subtle pieces of impossible perfection, he has romanced the forms, volumes, shades, textures and delicate grains of fine, soft wood into gentle, glowing expressions. When confronted with the small wood three-dimensional pieces, one’s fingers want to caress the smooth surfaces. They are tremendously inviting. A feeling akin to tenderness is evoked at the immense, paradoxical fragility and strength evinced by this artist’s approach to materials and themes. ‘From Wood and Water’ is a delicate, minimalist deliberation on endurance and vulnerability, texture and grain. The revelation of thegrains is evident for having been approached with something akin to reverence. And that deep, quiet sentiment is catching.

    It was not always so with this artist. Previous bodies of works have been edgy, provocative, and quite challenging. They tended always to be humorous, however, if pointedly satirical. LessLIE can even have been said to employ a caustic irony and multiple, nested visual puns in previous shows. He has co-curated and exhibited in shows on the themes of the marriage of contemporary Northwest Coast artistic expressions, cultural appropriation, ethical activism and the ancestral past for years. Challenging the dichotomies between traditional and contemporary art, as well as what’s considered marketable, has long been a passion of his: “I think there’s this thing in the contemporary Northwest Coast First Nations art scene, where there are these coffee-table books describing the legends, with these really technically proficient pieces polished in the books. I think that’s great and has profound cultural value, but at the same time, there hasn’t been much in the way of critical discourse ...that challenges people’s static notions of contemporary Northwest Coast art.”

    In the show that LessLIE co-curated for the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, ‘Urban Thunderbirds/Ravens in a Material World’ (2013), one of his pieces in the show incorporated a distinctly irreverent irony on the matter of cultural appropriation and retaliatory inverse appropriation. This is a strategy also deployed by First Nations Contemporary Trickster Artists, Jim Logan (Métis ) and Kent Monkman (Cree), to great (and often hilarious) advantage. LessLIE’s piece, ‘‘Cultural CununDRUM,’ resembled a spindle whorl design in which the little Starbucks double-tailed mermaid seems to peer out from the painted surface of a traditional circular drum. Traditional Coast Salish motifs of salmon and spindle whorl design characterize this Northwest Coast version of the icon appropriated by Starbucks to its corporate trademark. She is actually Freya Nerthus, the ‘Fish Tailed Aphrodite’ of the Nordic pantheon. Images of this double tailed mermaid/goddess can be seen on medieval cathedral door lintels, like smiling ‘Sheelagh-na-gigs,’ another pagan icon mysteriously included in early Christian decorative programs.

    In fact, it’s a feminine, Tricksterish archetype with more-or-less global diffusion. Historic Northwest Coast spirituality also venerated such a figure. Traditionally worked, Northwest Coast, tribal versions adorn house lintels throughout B.C. coastal areas. They are also seen on historic Coast Salish Spindle Whorls, and some of these can be viewed in the Northwest Coast collection of historical artifacts at the Royal B.C. Museum.

    Some of the ancestors of LessLIE’s entirely modern invitation piece for the current show, ‘Thunderbird Spindle Whorl,’ reside in the historical collection at the B.C. Museum. LessLIE’s renovation of the design occurs in the crystalline surfaces of etched glass, encompassed by an exquisitely joined frame of silken-soft, champagne- pale, yellow cedar. The contrast of colors, textures and surfaces is enticing in the extreme; the smooth, minimalist modernity of the materials and their high-gloss finishes set the ancient, traditional design lexicon of trigons, crescents, circles and C- shapes to wondrous flight in the imagination. Everything about this piece is satisfying—to the tactile sense, the intellect’s insistent probing, and the spirit’s eternal yearning for ecstatic unity.

    lessLIE lessLIE

    (LessLIE, ‘Thunderbird Spindle Whorl,’ 2017, etched glass, yellow cedar, 36” dia.)

    In his two large paintings, ‘Salmon World View,’ and ‘Thunderbird World View,’ LessLIE has elicited the glowing, traditional forms of sacred animals out of their polychromed grounds like shadows emerging out of brilliantly coloured fog. With black on black, orange on orange, and rose-madder red on red gels and glazes, he has not so much painted as conjured the shapes from the pigments. The effects achieved bestow a peculiarly live quality to the motile figures, shimmering, swimming or flying in their softly glowing, mysterious realms. They hover just beyond clear sight, on the edges of perception.

    lessLIE lessLIE

    (LessLie, ‘Salmon World View, 2017, acrylic on canvas, 4’ X 4’)

    In this show, LessLIE plays with our senses and perceptions, our ideas about Coast Salish art and our expectations of it. For his black on black three-dimensional piece, ‘wEDGE’ (painted, sandblasted wood, 2017), LesslIE created depressions in the matt black surface of the panel by sandblasting, then painted in the depressed areas with several coats of dark umber brown wash. The ‘floors’ of the depressed areas are of varying altitudes and depths, like the ocean floor. The textures are frilled, like gills, energy waves, amphibian frills, or corals. Our fingertips want to verify what our eyes see (though this would no doubt be frowned upon by the gallery). These delicate, organic, mysterious ‘frills’ are really just the wood grain, exposed and distressed by the sandblasting. There is no way to photograph this piece in such a way as to reproduce its strange effects. It has to be experienced live.

    If LessLIE can be said to ‘romance’ form, enticing it from its matrix, media and material like a tender courtship dance, Chris Paul could be said to ‘massage’ his images out of a profoundly allowing, border-crossing space. His colors give the impression of having never existed before—of having been magicked out of an alternative universe with different rules. This is the result of carefully mixed pigments rubbed on, rubbed off, then reapplied—distressed and eroded to a fine patinas and softly glowing hues. Aubergines, taupes, brick reds, teal, and lime

    greens occur in finishes that suggest age or oxidation, weathering by the elements and the sheer vicissitudes of Time.

    With humor and respect, in pieces like ‘Grandmother Whorl’ and ‘Beginning Again,’ Paul mediates complex ideas into elegant form. His pieces often seem to have the effect of concealing a secret just on the brink of revelation—a cosmic joke about to be sprung, with the punch-line delivering not the feared pratfall, but an affectionate kiss. A close-up inspection of the circular mixed-media piece, ‘Feeling the Pull of the Earth,’ reveals the tumbling figures of tiny people, men, women and children, spinning around the glowing, pristine orb at its centre. This centre is the gently carved face, full of expression, wrought of classic Salish design elements, who peers at us as if from a secret, abiding core.

    The piece is constructed of three concentric circles, describing perhaps the sacred tri-cosmos—the ancestral cosmology of spiritual journeying and dream vision, spanning the realms of the three ‘worlds’ of the Tree of Life—the Upper World, the Lower World, and This World, the present moment of corporeal presence and perception. The middle concentric ring—perhaps corresponding to This World, Tolkien’s ‘Middle Earth’—is stained the ruddy red of life blood, the menstruum, the challenging, vital realm where we show up in our earthly bodies and antic spirits for a mortal life’s journey. This is where we are pulled into being. Having been drawn into form, we are lyrically turning around and around the gravitational core, attracted like moths to a flame. The piece subtly manages to be poignant, funny, and reverent to life’s mysterious forces all at once.

    Chris Paul, like Susan Point, is no stranger to huge public art commissions. His skills in metallurgy, welding and the other ancient and modern arts of the forge give him ample grounding in large-scale sculptural techniques. But there is one piece in this show that may face challenges finding a home due to its towering scale and sheer altitude. ‘Kiss the Sky,’ wrought to great height of wood and brushed aluminum, is painted a color approaching chartreuse. ‘Kiss the Sky’ definitely requires just the right space and just the right collector—one whose home or workplace has high ceilings. Other sculptural pieces by this artist will have no trouble fitting into the collections of the normatively ceilinged—a piece to feel at home with like a fond family member or remembrance—a finely tuned ancestral song, rendered in contemporary cadences.

    ALCHERINGA GALLERY, ‘(R)evolving Whorl(d)’

    A group exhibition by Coast Salish artists

    LessLIE, Chris Paul, Dylan Thomas August 5 – September 2, 2017
    621 Fort St., Victoria, BC
    Canada V8W 1G1

    Tel: 250-383-8224 Website: http://www.alcheringa-gallery.com/

  • Gallery Assistant Job Opening


    Alcheringa Gallery (www.alcheringa-gallery.com ) seeks a self-motivated individual with a passion for indigenous art and culture. Some knowledge of art sales and public relations is an asset. Some on-the-job training will be provided. This position is for part-time employment in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

    The successful candidate will have many of these strengths:

    Arts Background

    • Enthusiasm for, and knowledge of indigenous arts and cultures, including those of    Canada's Northwest Coast, Australia, and/or Papua New Guinea
    • Exhibition experience (handling art, hanging work, exhibition change overs)

    Sales Experience

    • Skill at building and sustaining relationships with clients
    • Experience handling cash, as well as operating POS (debit/credit) machine

    Computer Skills

    • Knowledge of computers (mainly MacOS)
    • Good organizational skills (setting up file structures, naming structures, etc.)
    • High proficiency with Microsoft Office (Word, Excel)


    • Some knowledge of photography using a digital SLR camera, photographing artwork, using lighting, and image editing for print and digital publication (see above in computer skills)


    • Strong writer and confident speaker
    • Experience using and posting within social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter)


    • Resilient sense of humour
    • Patience, resilience with interruptions
    • Ability to multi-task and keep on track with many assigned tasks
    • Willingness to work overtime when project deadlines require it and during show        changes
    • Willingness to work some holidays and weekends, and some evenings in summer
    • Good physical condition for moving and hanging heavy and awkward art objects
    • General maintenance and cleaning of gallery space

    DEADLINE for application is Friday, March 10th, 2017.

    START DATE will be approximately Friday, March 18th, 2017.

    We prefer digitally submitted applications with a pdf of your cover letter and resume sent to alcheringa@islandnet.com
    If physical application must be submitted, please bring or address applications to:


    Elaine Monds, Director

    Alcheringa Gallery

    621 Fort Street

    Victoria, BC


    V8W 1G1

    Tel: (250) 383-8224

    Email: alcheringa@islandnet.com

    All applications will be considered; however, only those with whom an interview is requested will be contacted. A three-month probationary period may be requested with the offer of employment. We thank all applicants in advance.

  • Soaring High, Landing Hard by Rebecca Jewell

    June 4th - July 6th, 2016 Alcheringa Gallery 621 Fort St.
    Preview: Friday, June 3rd, 10am-6pm Opening: Saturday, June 4th, 2-5pm (artist in attendance)
    Artist Talk: Sunday, June 5th, at 2pm

    When Rebecca Jewell was 18 years old, she left her home in London England to live in Papua New Guinea for one year.
    ​ The experience had a powerful, far-reaching effect on the young woman. Three decades later, memories of that time continue to inspire her dual careers of artist and anthropologist. “I vividly recall the village men and women,” she recalls, “their dark-oiled skin glistening and bird of paradise feathers cascading from their headdresses.” The men hunted birds with magnificent plumage, hoping to acquire the special powers and beauty of the animal.


    Bird-Catcher’s Headdress, original with feathers and archival ink print, 19 1/4 x 28 in, 2014

    Returning to England, Jewell studied social anthropology, then completed a PhD in Natural History Illustration at London’s Royal College of Art.  Her thesis involved many detailed water colours of birds in the British Museum. Spending time with collections that included many extinct birds galvanized the artist's resolve to protect the remaining species. Today, Jewell’s fascination with feathers includes the study of capes, masks, shields and headdresses from Oceania in the British Museum, were she is Artist in Residence.

    ​Jewell adds historical context to the Deer Stalker's and Falconer’s headdresses (below) by using animal illustrations by John Audubon.  For Birds of America (ca.1840) Audubon researched and painted many species of birds in their natural habitats. After killing the birds with fine buck-shot, he wired them into natural looking poses in their habitat. The historical penchant for killing and cataloguing is questioned by Jewell in the exhibition.


    Deer-Stalker’s Headdress, original with feathers, 15 ¾ x 17 ¾ in, 2014


    Falconer’s Headdress, archival ink print, 16 7/8 x 17 ¾ in 2014

    Jewell’s new works at Alcheringa spotlight her technical innovations and expertise in a variety of mediums: detailed drawing, hand-colouring, collaged materials and pulled prints. Several of the artworks are available as both an original with printed feathers and a limited edition archival print.​  “Process is as important to me as product,” says Jewell.

    Jewell uses an etching press for her paper lithography prints. The images for her hand pulled prints come from a variety of sources: her own photos and drawings, historical illustrations from museums and naturalist field guides. On a laser photo-copy of the image she rolls on her inks, then puts the feather on top. If all goes well, the press transfers the image on to the feather. “This technique takes a lot of patience and planning,” she says. A successful final piece is photographed and made into limited edition archival prints. This printing technique celebrates the strength and delicacy of a feather and the marvellous design qualities that allow flight. Sustainably collected goose, swan and duck feathers are used. Her palette favours reddish-brown for historical subject matter and more flamboyant colours for the headdresses and capes.

    Cape of No Hope is modelled after Hawaiian feather capes from the British Museum collection. The subdued palette of sepia and brown reflects the sombre message: all the birds printed on the feathers are now extinct. Their names are printed on the feathers. There are also photos of eggs from extinct birds.
    ​“Making this image was very time consuming,” says Jewell, “as I could only print four feathers at a time.”


    Cape of No Hope, original with printed feathers, 37 3/8 x 47 3/8 in, 2014


    Blue Songbirds, Printed feathers, 34x37 in, 2015


    Songbirds, Printed feathers and collaged printed tissue, 30x38 in, 2015

    Malta has a long history of hunting migratory birds, as do several southern Mediterranean countries. Jewell visited Malta in 2012 with artists from Ghosts of Gone Birds. This group worked with Bird Life Malta to raise awareness of the issues. In 2015, a referendum to allow the spring hunting of protected birds (banned in Europe) was passed in Malta. “It is disappointing,” Jewell says, “but many Maltese view these activities as part of their cultural heritage and livelihood.” 

    Writing for National Geographic, American bird expert Jonathan Franzen described the coastal netting in Egypt. The nets capture birds along their migratory route from Europe to Africa - nearly 140 million birds each season or one in 20 migrant birds.
    ​Below right: Martha, the last Passenger Pigeon, died in 1914 and now resides in the Smithsonian Institution. In 100 years the North American pigeon population went from 3 billion to zero because of loss of habitat and hunting for meat. ​


    Birds in Victorian Cage, archival ink print, 28 3/8 x 24 3/8 in, 2014


    Martha, original with printed feathers, 34 1/4 x 25 5/8 in, 2014

    Oceania includes Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea and the many smaller islands in the Pacific Ocean.
    This 2016 sculpture is a 30 inch-high replica of a duck egg dyed blue. A photographic print was created from the original sculpture. The floating objects on the surface represent the migration of artifacts. On the egg are explorers, navigation tools, island maps, designs and treasures moving feely in the watery genesis. The barely visible feather outlines create texture on the surface. 


    Oceanic Egg, Fibreglass, mixed media, 75x55 cm, 2016


    Rebecca Jewell constructing Oceanic Egg

    Whitney was a wealthy philanthropist who funded expeditions researching biota of the Pacific Islands in the 1920‘s.
    Jewell modelled her print on the 75-ton schooner used on the trips to collect plants, artifacts and photographs. In 2014, Jewell held an Artist Residency in New York’s  American Museum of Natural History. She had access to to the 40,000 bird skins collected by scientists during the Whitney journeys.  “It was overwhelming in many ways,” she recalls, “drawers and drawers of study skins. But it has to be seen as part of our history, and the history of science. Unfortunately, though, some species were brought to extinction due to excessive collecting.”  The artist suggests another way to satisfy our human predilection to collect and classify. Why not create a “paper museum” with drawings and photos of living plants and animals? “This type of museum could be easily transported and displayed” she says, “and put an end to killing and preserving the actual species.”


    Whitney South Sea Expedition, archival art print, 32x28 in, 2014


    Rebecca Jewell with etching press in studio.

    Rebecca Hossack Gallery in London and New York represent the artist. Elaine Monds and Rebecca Hossack are colleagues who both exhibit artists from Australia and Papua New Guinea. Director Monds is delighted to present Jewell’s first solo show at Alcheringa.
    “Rebecca is a gifted artist with an important message,” she says. “Her exquisite details draw attention to some disquieting truths about our relationships with the natural world.” 


    Left: Alison, Emma, Darren and Elaine at Alcheringa Gallery.


    Alcheringa's spacious new location at 621 Fort St

    Alcheringa Gallery is open 7 days a week and located at 621 Fort Street, Victoria.
    For more info call (250) 383-8224 or visit  Alcheringa Gallery


    Written by Kate Cino, Art Openings - May 31, 2016

  • Help Bring 3 Papua New Guinea Artists to Canada!


  • Navigating New Directions

    Navigating New Directions

    Elaine M. Monds

    Director, Alcheringa Gallery

    Thirty-two years have passed since I first experienced waking at first light in a village on the Sepik River. I never imagined all those years ago that I would have the joy of returning over and over again to visit friends who have since become family. On those early visits before I had made personal connections, I was often invited to stay in the Spirit House. I still recall the intense pleasure of waking in Suapmeri to see through my net a shaft of sunlight illuminating the Orators Stool, as it stood according to tradition in the centre of the house. Architecturally, these superb buildings are ideally suited to the environment. It is rare to feel a breeze on the Sepik but the Spirit Houses are ventilated to capture the little there is, and the torrential tropical rain could pour in a solid curtain inches from my mattress leaving me deliciously dry beneath the sago roof. They have open ends and sides and on occasion flying foxes with such easy access cannot resist a flying exercise straight through the house. Secure under my net, I could just hear the swoosh of their wings overhead in the complete darkness of a Sepik night. Very occasionally the sound of a motorized canoe pierced the complete silence, but it was rare.

    Since then much has changed and the sound of a motor is a frequent interruption, but much of the gentle rhythm of village life continues in places such as Korogo and Palembei, where the culture is still celebrated and carving skills have remained strong. Changes brought by technology crept in slowly at first but in 2008 when the first cellular phone arrived, the outside world came with it.   I am told that this access has created both negative and positive change.   I personally have observed that possession of a means to communicate has assisted our artists to promote their work. It has also made them aware of opportunities as they arise for cultural exchange, and has enabled them to be part of a growing network of indigenous artists in the Pacific.

    The value of the cell phone once again asserted itself when I was contracted in August 2015 by the University of British Columbia to assist Dr. Carol Mayer by organizing a field trip to the Sepik. The purpose of this trip was to interview the artists whose work is part of their contemporary collection, and this simply would not have been viable without the ability to text directly to the artists at home in the villages.

    Since 2006, a number of artist exchanges to Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States, have served to deepen the artists’ knowledge of their own culture. These visits provided opportunities to view, and even offer insights into, early Sepik works from the collections of the de Young Museum and the British Museum. At the same time, Teddy Balangu and Claytus Yambon were able to witness another contemporary aboriginal carving culture on the west coast of Canada. This sharing in turn led to experimentation with much softer woods such as yellow cedar, and new finishing materials such as bees wax. While working still within their Sepik tradition, the hand of the creators of most of the works in this exhibition can be recognized by their personal style.

    Joseph Kandimbu visited Stanford University in 1994 and, while there, contributed to the creation of the Papua New Guinea Sculpture Garden. While in residence there, he saw the Rodin Sculpture Garden in Cantor Arts Centre. As a result Joseph was credited with the creation of a Sepik version of ‘The Thinker’.   No one could doubt the profound effect this experience had upon him. Ever since, he has created figurative works undeniably Sepik, but mostly inspired by a memory of someone who has crossed his path, notably The Man from Tari (MOA collection), and The Wedding Guest (Museum der Weltkulturen collection), both inspired by people he had seen in his travels.

    For this exhibition, Joseph has been exploring the colonial past and as a result he has created two works. The first is a meticulously detailed carving of a Roman Centurion. As he explained, “I am a Catholic. I saw this in a book and I wanted to carve it”.   The second, entitled ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angel’, was inspired by the famous photograph of an injured Australian soldier, Private George Whittington, being led along the Kokoda Trail by Rapahel Oimbari in 1942. The ‘Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels’ was the name given by Australian troops to a group of Papua New Guineans who, during World War II, courageously assisted and escorted injured Australian troops down the Kokoda trail.

    Kaua Gita's work was represented in the travelling collaborative show ‘Hailans to Ailans’ in 2009. Inspired by the late Trobriand painter Martin Morububuna's sensitive portrayal of a mother holding her baby as she returns home from the garden. Kaua saw the painting in the exhibition catalogue and was moved to carve a Sepik counterpart which he entitled, ‘Back from the Lake'. Edward Dumoi is known for drawing inspiration from the real world, be it village cats, storybook foxes or former Prime Minister, Michael Somare!

    2016 promises to be a year to celebrate the contemporary artists of the Sepik River. As the year unfolds we will be welcoming representative artists who will be travelling to Canada to participate in cultural events assisted by MOA, Pacific Peoples Partnership and Alcheringa. We gratefully acknowledge the support of the Christensen Fund that has made this possible.

    Drawing on story telling, colonial history and every day life, these Modern Masters of the Sepik River are indeed Navigating New Directions.

    Click here to view online catalogue!

  • Exhibition Opening: lessLIE - smALL

    A festive time was had by all at the opening of smALL on Saturday October 4.

    Be sure to come on October 18 at 1pm when lessLIE will be at Alcheringa again to further reveal his thoughts behind these tiny conceptually rich works.

    A new serigraph print Salmon Water Ripples (edition 100) was released on the day of this celebratory event.

    smALL exhibition 2 600

    New Serigraph released at Exhibition Opening Reception 'Salmon Water Ripples' New Serigraph released at Exhibition Opening Reception 'Salmon Water Ripples'
    smALL exhibition 1 lessLIE - smALL Opening Reception

    smALL exhibition 3 600

  • Exhibition, "Perpetual Salish" showing at Legacy Gallery, curated by lessLIE

    An important new exhibition has opened at the University of Victoria’s Legacy Gallery. Showcasing part of George and Christiane Smyth’s spectacular collection titled “Salish Weave”

    We at Alcheringa first met George and Christiane in 1999 when they visited the gallery during an exhibition that honoured the work of several women artists including Susan Point. That introduction to the art of the Northwest Coast, and in particular the contemporary face of Salish Art, resulted in the beginning of their single minded dedication to the future of Coast Salish art and artists.

    This exhibition at Legacy Gallery showcases the work of several Coast Salish artists including Maynard Johnny Jr., lessLIE, John Marston, Susan Point and Dylan Thomas.

    Exhibition details are as follows:

    Perpetual Salish: Contemporary Coast Salish Art from the Salish Weave Collection

    August 15, 2014 to January 10, 2015

    Curated by lessLIE

    Legacy Art Gallery Downtown

    630 Yates Street

    In this exhibition the theme of perpetuation unifies the work of five contemporary Coast Salish artists who live and work in this region. The word perpetuation is meant to suggest a continuum of ideas and processes, which come from distinctive traditions that have existed over millennia. Perpetuation also infers some of the challenges that contemporary Coast Salish artists continue to face in the contexts of colonialism and assimilation as well as the dominance of other Indigenous traditions, which were often favoured by the art world, in both commercial and educational contexts. It is only in the last three decades that Coast Salish art has become more readily recognized by a wider audience as distinct from other Northwest Coast traditions.

    This exhibition presents a wide range of art forms and ideas, and visitors will gain a better understanding of the cultural and stylistic elements that unify and inspire these contemporary artists in their own artistic practices. Artists featured are Maynard Johnny Jr., lessLIE, John Marston, Susan Point and Dylan Thomas.

    Curator's Talk | Perpetual Salish

    With curator lessLIE

    Saturday September 27, 2014 | 2:00 pm

    Celebrate Culture Days at the Legacy Art Gallery Downtown | 630 Yates Street

    lessLIE - wHOLE w(((h)))orl(((d))) Serigraph lessLIE - wHOLE w(((h)))orl(((d))) Serigraph
  • University of Victoria’s Legacy Gallery features works by Coast Salish Artists Chris Paul and Maynard Johnny Jr.

    Salish Wind by Chris Paul Salish Wind by Chris Paul

    Chris Paul, whose work is featured in our latest exhibition, 'Where I Come From' will be part of this important showing at Legacy Gallery until January 10.  Stop by Legacy Gallery to learn more.

    Exhibition details as follows:

     August 15, 2014 to January 10, 2015

    Curated in collaboration by Caroline Riedel, Justine Auben Drummond & Dr. Andrea Walsh

    Legacy Art Gallery Downtown

    630 Yates Street | Small Gallery

    This exhibition honours Coast Salish artists Chris Paul, Maynard Johnny Jr., and knitters May Sam and the Olsen family (Adam, Joni, and their mother Sylvia) who were part of the University of Victoria's Artist in Residence Program through the Department of Anthropology between 2011 and 2013. During their 3 month residency they taught students about their own artistic practices as well as aspects of Coast Salish history and contemporary culture. The exhibit illustrates the teaching methodology and experience of students and artists in collaboration along with examples of the artists' work.

    The Artist in Residence Program is facilitated by Dr. Andrea Walsh, who teaches the Anthropology of Art, and the program is supported by donors George and Christiane Smyth.

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