Friends, family, and a canoe full of grandkids cheered as an exhibit of carver Alfie Collinson’s works opened at the Haida Gwaii Museum last Friday.
Starting by the side of his chinaay Arthur Moody, a master carver, Collinson began working with argillite at age 14. His uncle Rufus Moody would help teach him with miniature totem poles, as did his great-grandfather Lewis Collinson, who used to carve in front of a big window so young Archie and his friends could watch him work from outside.
Collinson’s first argillite piece was a small pendant that is now on display at the museum, steps away from the masterful, inlaid shaman carving shown below.
“He continues to do just extraordinary pieces,” said Nika Collison, the museum’s new executive director.
“Take the time to look at the materials he’s used, because the way he uses them is so innovative.”
Most of Collinson’s carvings are now in private collections and museums, but the exhibit now on display includes photos of several key works.
A few pieces also came back to Collinson thanks to a donation from a man in Little Rock, Arkansas.
“He kept them for 15 years, and then decided to give them back to my grandkids,” Collinson said.
“Now they have something to look after, and their grandkids, too.”