James Hart (7idansuu) has received the 2021 Audain Prize for Visual Art, which carries with it a $100,000 cash award. “It is a real honour to make this award to one of BC’s greatest living artists. Mr. Hart is a carver in a long line of Haida artists,” Audain Foundation chair Michael Audain said in the ceremony on November 8, 2021. We at the Belkin enthusiastically and sincerely congratulate James Hart on this well-deserved distinction.
The Belkin is especially honoured to care for Hart’s Reconciliation Pole: Honouring a Time Before, During and After Canada’s Indian Residential Schools (2015-17), which was erected at the south end of UBC campus in a traditional pole-raising ceremony in April 2017 and has become a place to honour and remember all those impacted by residential schools. In the past months, particularly since the heartbreaking and tragic discovery of 215 children buried at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School, people have been leaving small toys, fruit, candies and other gifts at the base of the pole.
“The magnificent pole’s most striking image is of a residential school into which survivors have hammered 60,000 copper nails representing the children who died in those schools,” Director Emeritus Scott Watson writes. “Near the summit of the pole, two boats being oared side by side represent settler society and the First Nations negotiating a future, represented by an eagle that surmounts the pole. The pole has had an enormous influence in raising awareness about the difficult history of the schools and what went on inside them. The pole tells us we have work to do. And the pole project is not finished. As I write, Jim Hart is working with Musqueam carver Richard Campbell to fashion a bronze skirt for the pole. This signals another kind of reconciliation and means that the pole, carved by a Haida artist, is deeply welcomed on Musqueam territory, where it is working to heal old wounds.” Keith Wallace, the Belkin’s Curator of Outdoor Art from 2015 to 2017, adds, “Having worked closely with James Hart on coordination of the installation of Reconciliation Pole at UBC, I encountered an artist who embraces tradition while ushering it into the realm of the contemporary in form and content. He is equally an artist who avoids the formulaic and is committed to a process of art making that encourages the requisite time for the artwork to reveal its full potential.”
Born in 1952 into the Eagle Clan at Old Massett, Haida Gwaii, Haida master carver and hereditary chief 7idansuu James Hart has been carving since 1979. He is also a skilled jeweler and printer and is considered a pioneer among Haida artists in the use of bronze casting. Hart is the recipient of the Order of British Columbia (2003), an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design (2004) and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal (2013). Hart created, designed and carved The Dance Screen (The Scream Too) (2013), a monumental sculpture that now resides at the Audain Art Museum in Whister. Most recently, Hart’s collaborative sculpture The Three Watchmen / The Great Flood (Ti A7xa7 St’ak’) with Xwalacktun and Levi Nelson was unveiled in front of the Audain Art Museum.