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2x Haida Indigenous Canadian Framed Artworks: Beaver Drum & Wolf Drum, Bill Reid
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  • 2x Haida Indigenous Canadian Framed Artworks: Beaver Drum & Wolf Drum, Bill Reid 1
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Titles: Beaver Drum & Wolf Drum
Artist: Bill Reid OBC RCA (1920 – 1998)
Technique: Embossed prints
Medium: Silver pigment on card
Framing: Mounted and framed, behind glass
Dimensions (approx.): 28 x 34cm (11 x 13.4 inches); painting 14.5 x 19cm (5.75 x 7.5 inches)

The Haida people - or, as they call themselves in their own language, the X̱aayda - have lived in Canada's British Columbia for at least 12,500 years, and possibly for as long as 19,000 years. During that time, they developed a culture which, though bearing many similarities with that of other indigenous American peoples, had many aspects that were as unique as the language isolate they spoke.

Like all the indigenous Americans, the Haida suffered greatly after the arrival of the Europeans and were almost entirely wiped out when a passenger aboard a steamship from San Francisco brought smallpox - the indigenous people had never been exposed to the disease before and had no natural resistance to it, leading to thousands of deaths - and this disaster was not helped by the actions of the Victoria government which, rather than organising a vaccination program as was already widely used among the European immigrant population, ordered the police to burn down fifty Haida villages in the hope that the occupants would wander off into the wilderness and die. Before the epidemic and genocide, there had been around 6600 Haida; afterwards, there were only around 800.

Even well into the 20th Century, by which time attacks of the sort carried out in the 1860s were frowned upon, the Canadian government continued in its attempts to destroy the Haida - while killing them was no longer acceptable, the authorities forcibly removed Haida children from their families and fostered them with European families to try to make them forget their heritage and cause the culture to die out. It nearly worked, and the Haida language was almost lost forever - even today, it's estimated that there are less than fifty Haida speakers in the world, most of them elderly and all of them speaking a simplified version because so much has been forgotten.

Fortunately, some other parts of Haida culture have fared better, especially since the 1970s when the Haida people began to explore their heritage and take pride in it thanks to the efforts of several community leaders. Among them was Bill Reid, an artist born in 1920 - like nearly all Haida children, the young Reid had no knowledge of his culture until his 20s when he visited Skidegate (the anglicised name of a village on a Haida reservation in British Columbia) where he met his grandfather, a traditional Haida silversmith. Becoming fascinated with his heritage, he set about learning everything he could about his culture, and his grandfather's profession - and when his grandfather died, Bill inherited his tools. He learned more during his time working in radio, then even more while studying jewelry making at the Ryerson Institute of Technology, and it's fair to say that by 1951 when he opened his first silversmithing studio he was in all probability the world authority on Haida culture. He also spent time scouring scrapyards and abandoned Haida villages, rescuing artifacts such as totem poles which would otherwise have rotted away, and which at least one historian has claimed the Haida invented.

Nowadays, though only far more recently than the liberal Canada of today likes to recall, the cultures, languages and traditions of the indigenous Canadian people are celebrated and promoted - hence, Reid's jewelry and artworks are widely collected and admired; examples can be seen on permanent display at both the Aquarium and International Airport in Vancouver, as well as at the Canadian Museum of History and the British Columbia Museum of Anthropology, at the Candian Embassy in Washington DC and in many other galleries and museums in Canada and beyond. He died in 1998, and is now recognised as being responsible for a large percentage of Haida culture that has been preserved and maintained.

These two pictures are accurate reproductions of some of Reid's famous drum decorations, in which he combined his skills as a silversmith with his knowledge of Haida culture to produce artworks of exquisite beauty. One represents a beaver, an animal of great significance to the Haida as their traditional myths claim that beavers transformed into the first humans; the other is a wolf, again of great importance to the Haida and, as the animal is one of his family's emblems, to Reid himself.

They're part of Contemporary Canadian Art Series, stock numbers 7690 (beaver) and 7691 (wolf), produced by Canadian Art Prints of British Columbia with the full approval of the artist's estate. Both are mounted in high quality boards and displayed behind glass in modern, plain brushed metal frames to match the silver of the pictures. They measure 28 x 34cm (11 x 13.4 inches) and have a printed sheet giving a brief history of Reid and his art on the back. Both prints and their mounts are in excellent, unmarked condition, though on close inspection it's revealed that there are some extremely light scuffs to the outer faces of the frames; the Beaver Drum's glass has a tiny chip at the lower left which is fortunately almost entirely obscured by the frame, while the Wolf Drum's glass is in perfect order.

Due to the nature of this item it is not always possible for us to identify any missing parts.
For this reason we ask that you please check the pictures carefully, as these show everything that is included.

This item has been very kindly donated to the Arthur Rank Hospice Charity.

Arthur Rank Hospice Charity supports people in Cambridgeshire living with an advanced serious illness or other life-limiting condition and those who need end-of-life care. Our ‘Outstanding’ services are provided free of charge to patients and their families. Our aim is to provide the highest quality care, helping them to make every moment count.

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About Arthur Rank Hospice Charity

Arthur Rank Hospice Charity supports people in Cambridgeshire living with an advanced serious illness or other life-limiting condition and those who need end-of-life care. Its ‘Outstanding’ services are provided free of charge to patients and their families. The aim is to provide the highest quality care, helping them to make every moment count.

Around 4,000 patients are cared for each year at the Hospice in Cambridge, the Alan Hudson Day Treatment Centre in Wisbech and in patients’ own homes via the Arthur Rank Community Team. This care supports people to improve their quality of life and fulfil their end of their life choices.

Alongside the care provided by the Inpatient Unit, Living Well services and Hospice at Home teams, patients can access: patient and family support; lymphoedema care; complementary therapy; medical and pain outpatient clinics; and advice from the clinical nurse specialists within the Specialist Palliative Care Home Team. Programmes are practical, holistic and tailored to the individual patient, family member or carer and may also include rehabilitative support, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and psychological support.

It will cost £10.5 million in 2021/2022 to run services, which are provided free of charge to patients and their loved ones. Contracted services from the NHS are budgeted at £6.98 million, meaning that £3.52 million needs to be raised through donations, fundraising activities and trading. The Charity is extremely grateful to the local community for the continual dedication, commitment and generosity they show in supporting towards meeting this target.