Carving on the Edge opens

By Debora Steel, September 17, 2011

World famous artists Calvin Hunt and George Hunt Jr. helped open the Carving on the Edge Festival on Sept. 16 at the Wya Centre.

Photo By Debora Steel

Tofino/Ucluelet — 

The Carving on the Edge Festival opened Sept. 16 at the Wya Centre with world famous carvers speaking about the continuing importance of their art.

Tla-o-qui-aht canoe maker Joe Martin said he is afraid that the art of carving is being lost and his 10-day carving workshop, that will explore the history and techniques of canoe carving, will help pass along his knowledge to a new group of interested craftsmen.

He will work with his brother Carl on a number of canoes that are in various stages of finish, allowing participants some hands-on learning and doing.

Joe smiled when he remembered that his father gave him no choice to learn how to carve. He wouldn’t ask if he would like to learn; he’d say, ‘we’re going’.

Joe’s  involvement in the festival springs from the fear that the art-form isn’t ‘being held onto.’

Ucluelet First Nation elder Barb Touchie opened the festival with a welcome to the territory and a wish for a successful weekend.

Calvin Hunt of the world-famous Copper Maker Galleryin Fort Rupert Village in Kwagu'l territory spoke of his connections to the Mowachaht territory of Friendly Cove (Yuquot), and the connection he feels to the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples.

George Hunt Jr., who also is related to the Nuu-chah-nulth through his grandmother Emma Hunt, said the name of this two-year-old festival speaks to him on a number of levels.

Carving on the Edge is not only about the location of the festival on the edge of Canada on the edge of Vancouver Island, but it’s about the sharp tools of the carver, and it’s about life.

There are times in life when people are just hanging on, living on a knife’s edge; and there are times, said Hunt, when a carver feels not so far away from the “starving artist” life.

George Hunt’s work can be found in Tofino’s House of Himwista Native Art Gallery on Main St.

In addition to being one of the carvers actively involved in this year’s carving workshop, George has donated a paddle for raffle to help the fledgling carving festival with fundraising.

He said he got the feeling from last year’s inaugural festival that organizers were taking an important baby step, and what better way to represent that effort than with a paddle.

He equated it to a story told by carver Tim Paul of the supernatural Nuu-chah-nulth ancestor whose powers were so great that with a single stroke of his paddle he could be at his destination. The goal is to have all the carvers donate a paddle as a symbol of the great power of pulling together and of everyone coming together in one spirit canoe.

Calvin Hunt introduced festival organizer Norma Dryden saying she is inexhaustible in her work for the event.

Dryden welcomed people to the festival saying “It’s always a warm and beautiful time with the artists.”

The Carving on the Edge Festival takes place throughout Tofino and Ucluelet from Sept. 15 to 25 at art galleries and public spaces throughout the territory. But this weekend there are many carving workshops at the Wya Centre being held. Wya is located at the Tofino/Ucluelet Junction on Hwy. 4 and here’s what is scheduled:

Saturday, September 17
9:00 am        Welcome & coffee
10:00 am      Traditional Canoes with Joe Martin & Carl Martin
11:00 am      Carving with Calvin Hunt
Noon             Lunch & Market 
1:00 pm        Legends & Carving with Stanley Sam, George Hunt Jr.,Tim Paul & others.
2:00 pm        Tool Making with Jason Titian & Carl Martin
3:00 pm        Sharing Carving Techniques with Gordon Dick, Ray Sim & others

Sunday, September 18
9:00 am         Welcome & coffee
10:00 am       Carving Forum:  "Carving Roots & the Contemporary Environment - Letting Change Come"  with Tim Paul & others.
11:00 am       Carving Demonstrations & Drawing & Painting 2-D Design
Noon              Lunch & Market
1:00 pm         Carving Demonstrations, Drawing & Painting 2-D Design & Tool Making
2:00 pm         Clayoquot Paddle Making with Carl Martin
3:00 pm         Sharing Carving Techniques - open session