Haida Gwaii artist Josh Davidson was one of 50 vendors at the Jim Ciccone Civic Centre in Prince Rupert during the 2020 All Native Basketball Tournament.

Blending traditional art with realistic life-form

Haida Gwaii artist, Josh Davidson on display at ANBT

  • Feb. 19, 2020 6:00 a.m.

Basketball players were not the only attraction from Haida Gwaii during the 61st Annual All Native Basketball Tournament in Prince Rupert.

Vendors and artisans, such as Haida Gwaii artist, Josh Davidson, were also showcasing their talents.

Davidson manned his vendor booth while he sketched drawings and displayed the drums and prints on site. He has been a vendor at the tournament for the past three years.

The Haida artist draws, sketches and paints traditional First Nations art and life-like forms using a variety of mediums.

Pencil, charcoal and ink creations are processed into framed prints, and acrylic paint is used directly on the animal hide canvas to make drums. All of his work is completed by hand.

The full-time artist was apprenticed into the art by his uncles and step-dad who were traditional artists and taught him from an early age.

“I’ve always drawn, since I was about five years old. I started to gain an interest in Native art when I was 12 or 13, ” said Davidson, who has been an artist more than 30 years.

“Getting into the art peice takes me back to who I am and where I am from. It keeps me grounded, “Davidson said. “And also out of trouble.”

His painting on the drums is all original. He blends First nations style with authentic life form.

“It takes me a step away from the next artist. I like the adding the realistic elements to the drums,” he said.

It can take Davidson between 24 to 30 hours to paint a drum to completion.

He uses acrylic paint on elk, deer or moose hide. The hide is stretched over a red or yellow cedar frame, and tied at the back in a dream catcher with animal sinew. Traditionally, the sinew and hide come from the same animal, Davidson said.

Davidson believes it is necessary to share art so people can learn about and retain the Haida culture. He is opening his own art studio this summer in Masset, at 313 Eagle Road, under his own name.

Just as he was taught by his family, he pays forward his knowledge to school students when he goes into the classrooms to teach traditional art.

“It’s important to pass on the First Nations art. Not enough of the generations are pursuing it,” Davidson said. “It’s vital to pass it on so we don’t lose it. It’s part of our culture.”

K-J Millar | Journalist
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Josh Davidson is a Haida Gwaii artist sharing his talent with upcoming generations. He sketches with charcoal, draws with ink and paints with acrylic to make his art pieces. He was one of over 50 artisans and vendors on display at the 2020 All Native Basketball Tournament. (K-J Millar/Haida Gwaii Observer)

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