Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)
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Manawa—Pacific Heartbeat

Manawa—Pacific Heartbeat

Cross-cultural Group Exhibition

February 11 - March 11, 2006

“Manawa—Pacific Heartbeat” is a celebration of two extraordinary art-making cultures reaching out across the Pacific Ocean to exhibit together today. The similarities between the two groups, the Māori from New Zealand and the First Nations artists of the Pacific Northwest coast, are many and often quite astonishing. Along with stories of historical interaction, the parallel histories of these powerful societies have, in the present day, made this artistic collaboration a natural fit.

In the 1960s, the Māori and the Northwest Coast peoples were among the many aboriginal cultures around the world who began to see the vital importance of better understanding their history and documenting their own traditional culture. Spurred on by the interest and energy of the younger generation, the elders offered stories that shared the wisdom of the past and tied the present to that time. Building the foundations for the future often meant filling voids left by the devastating effects of foreign disease that had diminished the original populations and dealing with the aftermath of earlier government policies that forced assimilation and denied the established indigenous social structure. The rebuilding began by investigating history and restoring ceremonies, which returned a sense of pride and identity to the people of these first nations.

A natural extension of this rebuilding process was to visit other aboriginal nations to study their efforts in preserving language and culture and to learn from their overall successes. The Māori and the Pacific Northwest coast peoples found a natural affinity and allegiance with each other and immediately began to forge long-term bonds, which now include close friendships, travel to participate in ceremonies and shared exhibitions of their art.

“Manawa” represents only one small segment of the many interactions between aboriginal groups today that further cultural causes and possibilities for the future. The relationship between the Māori and the Northwest Coast has been active for more than twenty-five years and will likely continue for many generations.

Manawa gala at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel (February 11, 2006)
Manawa gala at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel (February 11, 2006)

Co-hosted event at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC (February 12, 2006)
Co-hosted event at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC (February 12, 2006)

Artists in Attendance:

Fred Graham, Sandy Adsett, Colleen Waata Urlich, Rex Homan, Norman Tait, Cheryl Samuel, Robert Davidson, Joe David, Alex Nathan, Darcy Nicholas, Gabrielle Belz, Dempsey Bob, Manos Nathan, June Northcroft Grant, Christina Wirihana, Tim Paul, Baye Riddell, Susan Point, Evelyn Vanderhoop, Isabel Rorick, Lani Hotch, Norman Jackson, William White, Stan Bevan, Derek Lardelli, Christian White, Preston Singletary, Ian-Wayne Grant, Gordon Toi Hatfield, Roi Toia, Kerry Thompson, Simon Lardelli, Lewis Gardiner, Todd Couper and Jayme Anderson.

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Current Exhibition

20th Anniversary

20th Anniversary Exhibition

April 23 - May 14, 2016

The Spirit Wrestler team: Colin Choi, Derek Norton, Nigel Reading and Gary Wyatt, have been together now for over 30 years representing master-level Inuit, Northwest Coast, and Māori art - and for the last 20 years as the Spirit Wrestler Gallery. We are celebrating this amazing 20-year journey with a “birthday” exhibition, “Reflections 20Years”. The exhibition will feature many of the great artists from the three extraordinary cultures that we represent that have shared and supported us on this journey… and it is also a “thank you” for all of you who have made this journey so much fun! The Spirit Wrestler Gallery was founded in 1996 and quickly became one of the foremost galleries of first-nation art in North America. The name Spirit Wrestler originates from the title of the book by James Houston that tells the story of a young shaman learning his powers in the Canadian north. At the time, the gallery was looking for a name that allowed for the consideration of both traditional and shamanist-based arts here in Canada, as well as embracing the work by other artists from around the world. Early exhibitions included artists from Alaska, the Canadian Plains, and the Māori from New Zealand, being shown in the same room as Northwest Coast and Inuit art. The cross-cultural interactions have offered a unique fusion in the gallery and generated many group and solo exhibitions that we have hosted over the years. We were witnessing the trend of a growing interaction internationally between artists who were travelling far afield to research the art and modern cultural practices of other nations - and along the way, forging friendships that have endured across great distances. The last two decades have also been an exciting transition time for the arts being created by all three cultures. There was a pronounced movement towards the incorporation of new materials, such as glass, bronze, and polymers - which has opened new avenues for the art itself, both in terms of subject and scale. To be a part of seeing the artists exhibiting their work side-by-side has been very exciting and has made the Spirit Wrestler Gallery a unique and challenging experience for any visitor. We have had the privilege of representing many of the greatest Northwest Coast, Inuit, and Māori artists of our time - and have have had the privilege of showing a great number of the most important pieces produced over the last three decades. It has been an honour to share this long journey with so many great artists and clients. Thank you all so much for your belief and support.

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Spirit Wrestler Gallery

47 Water Street
Vancouver, BC
Canada V6B 1A1

Toll Free: 1-888-669-8813
Phone: 604-669-8813


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3 blocks from Waterfront Station
Between Abbott St. and Carrall St.

Monday to Saturday, open 10-6
Sunday and Holidays, open 12-5