Visit at Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler B.C.

Carver Aaron-Nelson-Moody

At the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, Native master carvers Aaron Nelson Moody and Delmar Williams were working on a commission of Pacific Northwest Coast Salish styled house panel carvings. We arrived at the Cultural Centre yesterday on a rest day from skiing and when I found out that today there would be two carvers I canceled my plans to ski to meet and watch them working on a cedar panel. Both Aaron and Delmar were extremely approachable while they worked and were a treasure trove of information on their Native designs, carving techniques and tools and, perhaps the most fascinating, Squamish-Lil’wat culture such as legends and customs. Aaron and Delmar showed me handles for carving tools they hand-made and even let me try those tools on the panels they were carving. We actually spent quite a long time talking about anything and by the end of two good hours I felt like we were old friends. Perhaps because of his dual ancestry (Scottish father and Native mother) Aaron is uniquely positioned to act as a cultural ambassador and myth dispeller with all the non-native visitors. Later I researched information about Aaron Nelson-Moody and found a few sites with reference to some high profile work he completed in connection with the 2006 and this year’s winter Olympics. More about Aaron in a recent interview with Pique News Magazine. When we parted we exchanged contact information and Aaron picked up his hand-held drum and accompanied himself while singing us a short song. Aaron Nelson-Moody’s Parting Song from Piergiorgio Barbarich on Vimeo A truly serendipitous visit!

Henry Moore at the Tate Britain in London

Henry Moore at the Tate Britain Museum

It was with trepidation that, while in London, I visited a major indoor retrospective of Henry Moore at the Tate Britain 22 years after his death.  I was aware of Moore’s weight, touted as the most important British sculptor of the 20th century, and had seen his huge pieces in some European cities.  Still, I didn’t know very much about the sequence of Moore’s artistic phases or their background.  There was something I liked in Moore’s modernistic style and restrained formality. The curator’s stated intent was to revisit Moore and for the first time expose some of the artist’s less known sinister edge and raw sexuality.

Despite Moore’s dark side seeming rather normal today, I was quite satisfied with the curators’ choices and presentation and impressed by both the breadth and depth of Moore’s work.  Moore’s mastery of the medium, whether stone, wood, plaster, or bronze, also amazed me.  I was transported by Moore’s work back in the eclectic 30s by some of his Picasso-like forms and into the dark wartime by his very expressive drawings from the London shelters during bomb raids. In the final room of his huge elm reclining figures I felt like when I was in front of

Moore in his garden at Perry Green, Hertfordshire

Moore in his garden at Perry Green, Hertfordshire

Michelangelo’s Slaves.

After my visit I read some negative reviews about the Moore exhibit and his work. It was clear to me that those authors, perhaps because of their younger age, viewed Moore’s work in a limited way and failed to place it in its context.  While Moore’s sculptures and drawings might not be as animated as those by other masters, his passion for his work and engagement with the surrounding world definitely come through.  Moore’s modernistic and abstract work is probably less approachable than more realistic works. As for me, I came away from the Tate exhibit knowing myself a bit better, feeling richer, more erudite, exhilarated, and lucky to have gazed at and been touched by Moore’s figures.