Hello from Canada! Corrinne Eira Evans’ research trip. Part 1.

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Jeweller Corrinne Eira Evans and her partner, furniture maker Andrew Oliver, have sent us this lovely diary of their first few days in Canada. Corrinne has been planning this trip for some time. She’s always been fascinated by the imagery and history of the artwork of Native American cultures, as reflected in her own jewellery collections, and she’s now visiting the west coast of Canada researching First Nations artists…

“Hello from Canada!

We arrived last Tuesday in Victoria B.C and it was a good flight. I thought it was going to be a rather long journey but in the end, with the help of movies, books and sleep, it actually went fairly quickly. The final part of our first flight ended spectacularly with a clear view of the Rockies, white peaked mountains spanning for miles, and then as we came into Vancouver, the sight of logging boats and hundreds of reddish logs in square formations lining the river was fascinating.

A short wait and off we headed again in a small plane (which tested my nerves!) over to Victoria B.C. What a beautiful journey – only lasting 15 minutes, but as we lifted off the ground we snaked over the surrounding islands, the sea sparkled in the sun and the sight of little white boats dancing between the islands with trails behind them was wonderful.

On the first morning, pulling back the curtains, hovering around the fuchsia bush just outside was a majestic hummingbird! So delicate, small and elegant. When planning this trip I knew of the many beautiful creatures in Canada, but not that they were so abundant and so blasé about humans. Deer casually walking through the garden, mink, seals and otters gracing the waters near the edge of coves and eagles and herons high above you throughout the day.

The weather is hot, with a cool sea breeze at intervals. The Olympic Mountains are like a backdrop painted for a film, surreal and stunning as they change with the light. Sea mist rises to create a band hovering just above sea level making the mountains look like they are floating.

Walking up Douglas we’ve seen huge red wood trees and at the top you can see 360 degrees – all the islands shooting off from Victoria, Mount Bakers presence sitting to the east, and the city of Victoria spanning out for as far as the eye can see. Big butterflies dart around you playfully then glide, in yellows, black and whites.

On Saturday, we took the ferry across to Salt Spring Island, carving a way through the islands was amazing. Houses sit just off the beaches in amongst the trees and the great logs of wood that are washed up on the beaches below.

On Salt Spring Island a Saturday market was taking place just inland from the harbour with food, music, plants and art. There were beautiful stalls with hand crafted items, mostly all handmade by local craftsmen of Salt Spring. Just up the road lies the Salt Spring Art Centre promoting the local talent.

Heading into Victoria City, our first stop was the Eagle Feather Gallery. Wow – the amazing work of the First Nations artists! Such amazing paintings, carvings, silver jewellery and prints. I fell in love with it all. The carved masks at the back of the gallery were crafted so fine and the colour choices just popped! One was a tri folding mask which opened out to reveal another seated inside. It was a pleasure to chat to the gallery owners and this connected me with Francis Dick, a First Nations artist creating works in wood carving, serigraph prints and metal work from the Wolf Clan. I’m very excited to meet her this week and anticipate the journey that will unfold.

Royal B.C Museum in Victoria has a vast collection of artefacts, so much so we spent 5 hours in there and only went around the First Nations ‘Our Living Languages’ and history floor, so we will need another few trips I think. It was great to see all the traditional artefacts – really fine basket weaving, ceremonial blankets, jewellery, totem poles, masks and lots more.

I had fun sketching the many intricacies of pattern and texture and noting the methods of construction, although my drawing skills could do with more practice!

Today we got up at 5am to go down to the small beach across from where we are staying to watch the sun rise over the Olympic Mountains. It was quite magical and we saw 6-7 otters fishing for food and swimming only a few feet out in the water in front of us! Today we are collating information researched and experimenting with ideas and textures for art pieces. Hopefully tomorrow I will be meeting up with Francis Dick – I shall let you all know how that goes!”

Thank you Corrinne and thank you Andrew for the pictures. What a beautiful place! We look forward to hearing more and can’t wait to see the designs for your new jewellery collections…