From the symbolic 2010 Olympic Winter Games inukshuk, to totem poles, ornate masks and sculptures you see showcased all over British Columbia, it’s easy to get immersed in Canada’s First Nations art scene. And its artists like Roy Henry Vickers that have put First Nations art on the map and walls of galleries worldwide with a colourful 40-year career.
There’s no mistaking Roy Henry Vickers’ signature artwork. The bold colours, hard lines and symbols depicting nature are as instantly recognizable as they are world-renowned.
His art has been given to royalty, including Queen Elizabeth, and he is the recipient of the Order of British Columbia, the Order of Canada, and a Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal. In 1993, Russia’s Boris Yeltsin and former U.S. president Bill Clinton received artist’s proofs of Roy’s “The Homecoming” as the province’s official gift during their Vancouver Summit. And in 2003, a video featuring Roy was part of the successful Vancouver 2010 Olympic bid.
An impressive resume to say the least. He’s also an accomplished carver, keynote speaker, and best-selling author including his latest retrospective release “Storyteller.”
Born in 1946 in the village of Greenville in Northern BC, Roy has stuck to the shores of the northwest coast ever since, including many formative years in Tofino. It was here that he honed his artistic skills and made friends in the business community.
Among them were Bill and Joan Pettinger – the visionaries that bought Pacific Sands in 1972. Bill and Joan took Roy under their wing and encouraged him to build an art gallery in Tofino. They helped him learn about business and before long, the Eagle Aerie Gallery opened to an enthusiastic market of art lovers. It now welcomes over 500,000 visitors a year from all over the globe.
Roy recently came to town and stayed with us and it turns out he had a surprise.
He gave us a heads up that in celebration of his 40 years as an artist he was unveiling two new works in his Gallery including one he’s dedicated to Bill and Joan. He said he called it “Sunset Point” – which is the spectacular, rocky point on the edge of our Resort.
In his public announcement of the artwork, Roy said, “When I walk the beaches and see the sunset at places like Sunset Point my memory goes back to those days of new adventures and a new career as an artist. I am grateful to the Pettinger Family and all their friends who helped me to become who I am today.”
See that image above? That’s “Sunset Point.” Magical or what?!
And if you’ve stood in Cox Bay at sunset and witnessed that vantage point, you know that Roy has absolutely captured its mystic magic.
As you can imagine, Bill and Joan’s sons Dave, Rick and Bill Jr. are thrilled and moved by this tribute to their parents and Pacific Sands. What an incredible honour that will live on for Pettinger generations to come.
For more on Roy’s rare and revered creative process, check out this short video on “The Making of a Roy Henry Vickers Print”: