Pole ready for voyage to England

  • May. 18, 2007 5:00 a.m.

By Heather Ramsay-Haida Gwaii’s final contribution to eccentric British artist Damien Hirst’s collection of totem poles is ready to be sent on its way to England.
Old Massett’s Tim Boyko, one of three islanders commissioned to carve poles by Mr. Hirst, has wrapped up a year’s worth of work and has now shipped the 30-foot pole down to a Queen Charlotte storage facility, where it will be boxed up and continue on its long journey.
There are two more poles in Vancouver awaiting the arrival of Mr. Boyko’s creation. From there, the poles will make their way through the Panama Canal and on to England.
Two other islanders, Reg Davidson and Ben Davidson, completed their poles late in 2006.
Mr. Boyko was commissioned through the Douglas Reynolds gallery in Vancouver. The artists were given free rein to submit sketches to Mr. Hirst for what they proposed to do.
“I chose to carve a replica of a pole from Skedans,” said Mr. Boyko. His mother was from the village and he said he was impressed by the beauty of the pole, which he has seen in pictures of in the book Haida Monumental Art.
“What better way to represent the Haida people than an old pole,” he said. The bottom figure on the pole is a bear holding a chief, above that is black whale, a red-tailed hawk and a supernatural killer whale on top.
Mr. Hirst accepted the drawing, with one change, said Mr. Boyko. “He wanted a beak added to it, so there was something sticking out.”
This pole was Mr. Boyko’s second major piece of work. His first pole, a 40-footer, was raised at the Haida Heritage Centre at Second Beach and represents the village of Skaang Gwaii. He has carved several other smaller poles.
None of the artists know what Mr. Hirst, an artist famous for pickling animals in formaldehyde, intends to do with the seven Haida poles he commissioned over the last year.
Mr. Hirst’s latest art world spectacle is a diamond-encrusted platinum skull he created with 8,601 stones. The piece has a price tag of $99 million (US).