The Nuu-chah-nulth calendar year was described by thirteen moon phases with four additional moons for the individual seasons. At least one elder was given the prestigious and important position of monitoring and analyzing information from the moon. The moon told of the arrival of food sources such as the salmon’s return and the size of berry crops. It also told of weather conditions, changes to the environment and other information that allowed the people to prepare for the months ahead. Culturally, each moon was portrayed by images that described the unique characteristics of that particular time of year.
In the beginning of such an important year, as the world watches a new century unfold, it is fitting for the Spirit Wrestler Gallery to start with a show which encompasses both a historical and futuristic vision of the Northwest Coast and our changing world. As an extension of this exhibition a documentary film on the work of Tim Paul and his interpretations of the moon is also being made. To many people in the Northwest Coast community, the subject of this show has been seen as long overdue, an important project to finally see realized. Tim Paul has continued to evolve as an artist and is considered to be among the great innovators of the current generation — although he personally measures his success as an artist by the ability of the tribal elders to read the many cultural references which he incorporates into each piece.
Tim Paul is a Nuu-chah-nulth (Hesquiaht) artist from Esperenza Inlet on Vancouver Island. He is among the premier artists from this region and in recent years has emerged as a respected elder with vast cultural knowledge and a respect and understanding of the associated responsibilities. The Nuu-chah-nulth Moon calendar is a subject he has explored throughout his long artistic career and it has been an influence on the development of his unique style. Appreciating the many perspectives towards the understanding of the influence of the moon on the world has continued to challenge him and has encouraged work that is both deeply traditional and highly innovative.
Tim became the first artist from outside of the Hunt family to hold the position of First Carver for the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, BC. During his seven years in that position, he carved many totem poles for international sites including poles for Wakefield and Yorkshire Park in England, Stanley Park in Vancouver, Canada and Auckland, New Zealand (a gift from the Government of Canada for hosting the Commonwealth Games). He left his position to oversee a new program focusing on native education for the Port Alberni School Board and Greater Vancouver Island. For the past several years he has concentrated on carving.