Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Grizzly Snack


My visit to Vancouver in 2014 was a chance for me to witness and experience some of Canada’s fine attributes. I was particularly taken by the beautiful salmon that was on offer in all of the food markets and restaurants. Both the richness of flavour and delicate textures of the true wild salmon was something I relished. Therefore I definitely made the most of my stay by trying the different varieties of North West Coast salmon and in many different ways.

While I was there I was gifted a jacket from a close friend which had a salmon design that stretched from the front around to the back. Part of the design was the skeleton of a salmon which I found to be a very interesting form. This got me thinking and consequently inspired this piece.

I began to realize the significance of the salmon within the First Nations culture. Rich in nutrition, the salmon is a key part to their diet and being so plentiful was undoubtedly one of the main sources of food and sustenance for the North West Coast tribes. For this reason the salmon is well respected within the culture and is often featured in their traditional stories and art forms.

The salmon also plays a huge part in the food chain for the benefit of creatures such as birds, animals and other fish. A classic image is one of bears catching and gorging themselves on salmon as they migrate up river to spawn. This stunning occurrence I incorporated into the design and is depicted in the artwork with the mid-section of the fish missing revealing its skeleton as if a Grizzly Bear has taken a bite out of it, hence the title “Grizzly Snack”. However the form in its entirety more importantly represents the resilience of this amazing creature to return year after year and take its place in nature’s endless cycle of life.

Todd Couper

Todd Couper


Ngāti Kahungunu

(1974- )

Todd attended Te Aute Boys College in Hawkes Bay from 1987 to 1991 and quickly excelled in art. In 1995, he completed the Diploma of Art, Craft and Māori Design at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua; he majored in woodcarving/sculpture and graduated with honours. It was during this time that he met Roi Toia, who was teaching there. Roi, impressed with his talent, invited Todd to apprentice with him. They continue to work together, but Todd has forged his own style and direction in carving, with commissioned pieces residing in collections in the United States, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. He participated in Kiwa: Pacific Connections (2003) in Vancouver, Canada.