Saturday, October 26, 2013

The treasure of Siwidi

(click on image to enlarge)
Undersea and regular grizzlies
Watercolour and crayon
©2013 Charlene Brown

The Museum at Campbell River, one of the highlights of our recent trip up-Island, offers a fine venue for experiencing the rich heritage of the people of the coast. Vibrant and contemporary exhibits reflect First Nations cultures and lifestyles, dating back 8000 years, including the Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth and Coast Salish culture groups.
A not-to-be missed feature is ‘The Treasures of Siwidi,’ in which the powerful voice of a local Chief narrates the adventures of the ancestor Siwidi. Journeying to the Undersea World, Siwidi encounters a host of supernatural creatures, dramatically illustrated as a series of spectacular masks are revealed one by one, including many sea creatures such as octopus, whale, and my personal favourite, undersea grizzly. The 24 masks are the work of contemporary First Nations artists. 
It wasn’t possible to obtain a replica or even a picture of the mythical undersea grizzly with his striking sea urchin helmet, so I decided to paint a couple of them, fishing for salmon along with some regular grizzlies.