May 24, 2011

Charles W. Elliot

On the final morning of the IMCC2 local artist Charles W. Elliot, whose painting was used as the logo for the 2nd International Marine Conservation Congress, delivered an impromptu speech about his artwork. Elliot created the painting titled “The Message” in 2000 without the intent of it being used as a logo for the conference. However when he found out about the theme for the conference, “Making marine science matter,” he knew that “The Message” was the perfect image to represent the goals of the conference.

Logo for the IMCC2: “The Message”

Charles W. Elliott is a member of the Tsartlip First Nation Coast Salish Nation, located on the Saanich Peninsula north of Victoria, BC on the shores of the Saanich Inlet. Throughout his career he has done extensive research on his traditional Salish Nation art, and consistently incorporates language and symbols into his artwork. While Elliot is considered a master carver, he also spends his time on graphic art works like “The Message.” The image incorporates three prominent figures used throughout Northwest Coastal art, the orca, the human and the raven. The human represents all of mankind, while the orca represents the ocean and nature, and the raven (which is entwined in the person’s hair) represents a messenger in First Nation’s culture that has the ability to transform both himself and other beings. The raised hand of the human in the figure represents communication with the orca whale and other species in nature, which are represented by the seabirds that form the orcas fins.

Salish Nation territory

According to Charles, the artwork represents a conversation that humans need to have with nature, and the need for a dialog between humans and the creatures of this planet. During his speech Charles emphasized the need for the conversation by saying, “We need to apologize for the destruction we caused and come up with solutions. We need a conversation to change the direction things are going.” Charles’s artwork does a superlative job displaying the theme of the conference, and is a vivid reminder that humans need to work with the natural world if we all are to restore and sustain the health of the ocean and planet.

Art and woodcarving have been a focus for Charles W. Elliot for more than twenty-four years. His work is a symbol of his dedication and love for traditional Salish Art and his Salish Nation. Today he plays a significant role in the revival of traditional Salish art, which is considered one of the least known Northwest Coast art disciplines. Much of his work consists of large public commissions that reflect the Saanich Nations stories and traditions.

One Comment

  • Charlotte says:

    Fabulous art and very wonderful thinking and writing. Many thanks for this piece imparting wisdom and very much in sync with Dr. Earle's message about “making peace with nature.”

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