Friday, June 24, 2011

Alfie Fishgap: Art Which Speaks for Heritage and Spirituality

by Maureen Bayliss.

Alfie J. Fishgap descends from the Salish First Nation but grew up estranged from his Native roots.

Alfie’s adopted name was not Fishgap. After discovering as an adult that he had been adopted by his Scottish/Italian parents, he researched his background learning of his Coast Salish heritage and that his ancestors had been fish trappers for their village. An elder had used the name Fishgap, and now so would he.

Always interested in art, the pathway to his West Coast heritage led Alfie carve a ‘wild woman of the woods’. It was during the journey with this piece that the spirit of his western roots reached out to him.

Since then, Alfie embarked on an exploration of his ancestry and immersed himself in the styles and lore of Haida and Kwakiutl art.

In speaking of his work, Fishgap says he does not create his art; the art creates itself using his hands as the tools.

Like the dream time his ancestors revered, Alfie’s art speaks directly to him and it is not uncommon for him to return from a foray into the woods harbouring a myriad of artistic inspiration. And in this, he is moved to create.

Totems, spirit lures, masks, halibut hooks, boxes, canoe paddles; all are part of Alfie’s repertoire. His work exhibits his heritage, and the spirituality of his ancestors. Each piece created is one of a kind meticulously designed, hand carved, burned, and painted in a traditional style which speaks to a new generation, yet still honours the past.

Alfie resides with his wife and his daughter in Holland Landing (near Toronto, Ontario). His career has led him to enjoy many awards, commissions, exhibitions and an offerings of workshops with private and public events.

To read more about Alfie Fishgap and his work, please click here.

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