The Wood Speaks: Festival blossoms at Shore Pier

Carving on the Edge Festival continues through Sunday, Sept. 14. Showcasing the genius of regional artists, the show is themed “The Wood Speaks.”

Tseshaht artist Gordon Dick said the Carving on the Edge Festival is a great event.

“It seems to be gaining strength and more recognition each year,” Dick said.

This is the second time in the event’s five-year history he has participated.

“It’s always good to be around other artists,” he said, adding that traditional First Nations carving continues to gain respect inside and out of the artistic community.

“It’s really becoming more and more recognized and sought after, and more artists are taking it up, something that can keep the culture moving and make them proud of their roots and keep the momentum. It was almost extinguished, and now we keep it moving forward,” Dick said.

Hesquiaht master carver Tim Paul is something of a guru for the festival. His vision is that it would help people understand the importance of traditional carving.

“That we’d understand what I was given to understand – that art is the most powerful part of our culture. When you get together with a neighbour and you create and produce together, there’s a feeling of accomplishment,” he said.

Creativity requires expression, he said. “If you have it, and you’re good with your hands, you should produce,” Paul said.

Standing by his clear cedar carved and painted

sculpture created from old-growth cedar, “Clear-cut and Dressed,” he said conservation is critical in a world where rivers and old-growth timber need to be preserved for future generations of salmon and artisans.

“You must never condemn anything to extinction … Lets save what we have and live with taking what we need,” Paul said.

The show continues through Sunday. The venues themselves are works of art, and showcase pieces by Mark Mickey, Keith Plumley, Carl Martin, Robinson Cook, Marika Swan, George Yearsley, Christen Dokk Smith and others.

Artists are working at the Carving Shed on north Chesterman beach, the legendary home of the late carver Henry Nolla, from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Henry was the principal carver of the architectural details of the Wickaninnish Inn as well as a teacher mentor to many of Tofino’s finest carvers. The Carving Shed has been a Tofino landmark for over 30 years and remains a local carving hub. The carving art show is open at the Shore Pier Building at 368 Main Street from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.