June 4, 2014, KLEINBURG ON – Haida art and culture is recognized around the world, and Charles Edenshaw (c. 1839-1920) stands as one of its greatest luminaries. A master carver and iconic figure in Northwest Coast art, this exhibition of Edenshaw’s work opens at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection on Saturday, June 28, and will be on display until September 21, 2014. Simply titled Charles Edenshaw, the retrospective includes eighty extraordinary objects assembled from public and private collections. This will be the exhibition’s last showing following highly successful runs at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa.

Circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery, this exhibition marks the first time that such a large and diverse grouping of the artist’s work has been shown together, giving audiences a unique opportunity to explore the collected works of this Northwest Coast master.

The exhibition is comprised of argillite platters and model poles, wooden masks, painted hats and baskets, gold and silver jewellery, and other exceptional carvings, displayed within the McMichael’s intimate and accessible gallery spaces.

“We are honored and excited to host this exhibition, which brings richly deserved recognition to one of Canada’s most notable and innovative artists,” said Victoria Dickenson, McMichael Executive Director and CEO. “Charles Edenshaw’s significance to the development of Northwest Coast art, and Canadian art as a whole, cannot be overstated.”

One of the highlights of the exhibition, the silver Sea Bear Bracelet, was acquired by the McMichael in 1974, and embodies Edenshaw’s masterful use of space and line. Described by exhibition co-curator Robin Wright as “classic Charles Edenshaw,” it is the artist’s largest known bracelet.

The exhibition focuses on four predominant themes: Edenshaw’s deep-seated belief in Haida traditions; his ability to animate Haida stories in his carving; his advancement of traditional formline design; and his interest in new materials and visual ideas that led to innovative cultural hybrids.

“This exhibition presents a wide range of Edenshaw’s creative output and considers the artist’s incredible legacy within Northwest Coast art, past and present,” said exhibition co-curator Daina Augaitis.

Edenshaw was born Da.a xiigang at Skidegate in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, to a prominent Haida family. He trained as a carver under his uncle Albert Edward Edenshaw, and inherited from him the title of Chief 7Idansuu. Around 1873, Edenshaw married Isabella, an accomplished artist in her own right, and the two collaborated on a number of works, a selection of which is included in the exhibition. Throughout his lifetime, Edenshaw created works that, while rooted in traditional Haida culture, represented new artistic forms.

A media preview will be held on Thursday, June 26 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Media interested in attending are requested to RSVP to Rachel Weiner at or 905.893.1121 ext. 2210.

Master carver and Edenshaw’s great-grandson, Robert Davidson, will hold a discussion at the McMichael as part of the new Speaker Series on Saturday, September 6. The date will be confirmed shortly. Fee: $29 general public; $24 McMichael members; $15 for students with valid ID. For tickets, call 905.893.1121 ext. 2209 or visit

A revealing interview with Davidson, conducted by McMichael Assistant Curator Chris Finn, will appear in the inaugural edition of the McMichael Magazine, to be published later this summer.

Charles Edenshaw is organized and circulated by the Vancouver Art Gallery, and is made possible with support from The Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts, the Government of Canada through the Museums Assistance Program of the Department of Canadian Heritage, and Mr. David Aisenstat.

The show is curated by Robin K. Wright, renowned Northwest Coast scholar and Director of the Bill Holm Center for the Study of Northwest Coast Art at the Burke Museum, University of Washington, Seattle; and Daina Augaitis, Chief Curator and Associate Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery; with Haida advisors Robert Davidson and Jim Hart.

The exhibition is complemented by a fully-illustrated book, Charles Edenshaw, co-published by the Vancouver Art Gallery and Black Dog Publishing (London).

About the Vancouver Art Gallery

Visit the Vancouver Art Gallery to see major exhibitions of works by the world’s leading contemporary artists and history’s greatest masters. Founded in 1931, the Gallery is Western Canada’s largest art museum, and home to a spectacular collection of more than 11,000 artworks by Canadian and international artists. For more information, please visit



About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of almost 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery acknowledges the support of the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information:

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For media inquiries:


Wendy Campbell

Manager, Media Relations and Online Presence

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

905.893.1121 ext. 2201

Rachel Weiner

Media Relations and Communications Coordinator

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

905.893.1121 ext. 2210

Debra Zhou

Communications Specialist

Vancouver Art Gallery