A brief walking tour of downtown Victoria Indigenous exhibits and shops.
November’s a cozy time to wander the streets of downtown Victoria, armed with a little curiosity and, of course, an umbrella. Here are a few Indigenous exhibits and shops for inspiration, education, not to mention stunning gift ideas. Downtown Victoria is located on the traditional territories of the Lekwungen (Songhees and Xwsepsum Nations).
Uvic’s Legacy Gallery Downtown has two compelling exhibitions on right now. The first-ever We Carry Our Ancestors exhibition “honours the resilience of women who have carried their cultures forward by passing down the art of cedar basketry to future generations.” Featured pieces include Nuu-chah-nulth and Salish historical baskets, and portraits of weavers by documentary photographer Ulli Steltzer. There are also contemporary baskets by Salish artists Angela Marston and Brenda Crabtree.
Urban Regalia is the second exhibition. Curated by Carolyn Butler Palmer (Associate Professor, UVic Art History and Visual Studies), the first movement is Contemporary Fashion by Sug-ii-t LukxsDesign features Gitxsan designer Yolonda Skelton’s work. This mixes the aesthetics of Gitxsan button blanket robes with a twist of Audrey Hepburn’s style. The second movement opens in January 2020 and will feature the button blankets of Ms. Skelton’s students at Westshore Centre for Learning and Training-Colwood Campus.
Next Stop, Eagle Feather Gallery, the only downtown Victoria First Nations-owned-and-operated gallery. Shirley MacDonald and her husband Chris established the gallery nearly twenty years ago to feature local artists. They are also recognized for connecting artists with clients for commissions. “There’s been a real shift to focus on Coast Salish. That’s nice to see,” Chris shares, “You see this in the Andrea Fritz’s work in the bus shelters, Doug La Fortune’s public art sculptures and Dylan Thomas’ street banners in downtown Victoria. Eagle Feather Gallery is a go-to for locals and a must-see for visitors. This weekend, enjoy Eagle Feather Gallery’s annual Fifty/Fifty Xmas Show featuring over fifty local First Nations Artists who have created over fifty handmade gift items for under $50.00.
Last stop for this tour, the Royal BC Museum museum. The First Peoples Gallery is one of the three permanent collections. The Ethnology Collection has 14,000+ objects from throughout BC, from the early 19th century up to present. This collection includes ceremonial and utilitarian objects, tools and regalia, creations for traditional use and or the tourist market, typical examples and exceptional masterworks. Basketry, beadwork, quillwork, weaving, worked hide, wood carving, gold and silver jewellery, argillite carving, painting and printmaking are among the techniques and materials represented. It is one of the most comprehensive collections of First Nations cultural materials from BC.
If you’re still keen for more, don’t miss Alcheringa Gallery and Out of the Mist Gallery. Alcheringa specializes in contemporary art from the Northwest Coast of Canada. They have represented Indigenous artists across Canada for more than 35 years and are committed to “supporting and promoting artists by donating to communities…to preserve and protect Indigenous culture.”. They also carry a striking collection from Papua New Guinea. Out of the Mist has both classic and contemporary Northwest Coast native art, including traditional potlatch masks, basketry, shamanic devices, button blankets, and totems. They also have African tribal art, North American Oceanic and plains beadwork and artifacts.
Keep up to date on what’s happening over the season downtown with the Holiday Guide!
Lastly, mark your calendars for Lights of Wonder Dec 13-30.