Red Cedar Totem depicting a Thunderbird, a Woman & a Killer-Whale Measuring 17″ x 6″ x 5″ by Kemano/Kitlope Artist Henry Venn Robertson
Kemano/Kitlope artist Henry Robertson began carving at the age of 10 under the direction of his farther, carver Gordon Robertson. Henry’s traditional name is Ga-ba-baawk, which means Ten Ravens in English. A member of the Raven Clan, Ten Ravens grew up in the amalgamated village of Kemano-Kitlope and received his name from his mother’s father in a potlach ceremony held at Metlakatla. Ten Ravens’ first attempt at wood carving was when his father passed him a piece of wood and a knife, instructing him to carve a miniature totem pole.
Through his life, Ten Ravens has pursued many areas of industry including logging, fishing, and railway construction. In 1976 an opportunity to share his culture with First Nations students in the Terrace School system arose and he began teaching an enthusiastic group the ancient arts and culture of his people.
In the many years that Ten Ravens has been carving wood, argillite and soap stone, he has had many exhibitions in galleries throughout Canada and the U.S. Although Ten Ravens produces many smaller carvings, smaller totems and feasting bowls, he especially enjoys carving large, full-scale totem poles. He has had the honor of carving a totem pole for his own people, that is now with the Indian Friendship Centre in Vancouver, as well as carving a miniature totem for the late Emperor Hirohito of Japan. For the past two years Ten Ravens has also been responsible for the presentation of the Aboriginal Pavilion located at the Pacific National Exhibition in Vancouver, B.C.
Ten Ravens has also had the pleasure of teaching his three nephews, Derek, Gary, and Barry Wilson, passing on age-old techniques and sharing the legacy of the culture. Today, he continues to take interested First Nations artists under his wing. With the distinctive, refined method of carving and his fervor for the culture, Ten Ravens’ work will continue to flourish and be sought, both nationally and internationally.