Marlene Liddle

Region: Northern British Columbia

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Artist Statement

My name is Marlene Liddle. I was born on Haida Gwaii, BC. I am Haida of the Yahgulanaas Clan, Raven moiety. I am from a long line of renowned Haida artists and carvers, including my great-grand parents Isabella (Master Weaver) and Charles Edenshaw (Master Carver), my grand mother Agnes Jones (Cedar Bark Weaver), my mother Norma Adams (Cedar Bark Weaver), Georgia Bennett (Raven’s Tail Weaver), my daughter Cori Savard (Artist and Carver), and my son Chad Savard (Computer/Digital Guru).

I started my apprenticeship with the gathering, and preparation of cedar bark in 2000, with my friends and mentors Barney Edgars, Darren Edgars and Rolly Williams. I gathered and prepared the bark for my elder aunts, cousins, and fellow weavers until the summer of 2008. In the August of 2008 my mentor and teacher Christine Carty (Master Weaver) offered to teach me how to weave. I worked with Christine Carty and fellow students for a entire year. Together we learned the basics of weaving, by weaving square baskets with various finishes. Once we had mastered the squares we then graduated to weaving round baskets. Once we mastered the round baskets with the various finishes, we were then instructed on how to weave the different styles of the traditional Haida hats.

With the basics taught to me by my mentor/teacher Christine Carty, as well as fellow weavers, drawing inspiration from researching into other styles, and techniques I have begun to branch off into a more contemporary style of weaving. I have now started weaving other contemporary style hats incorporating twilling and Maori patterns. Examples of this are the ever popular Fedora, the Cowboy Hat, and the Ladies Cloche style hats.

I have a full-time employment, and also treat my weaving like a job. I have dedicated hours from 7:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. each weekday evening to prep or to weave with my cedar bark. I also open my home every Sunday for free weaving classes for those who are willing to show up. In return my students must learn to harvest and prepare their bark in the spring. I have had many temporary students in the past three years, but have had success with 3 full-time dedicated weavers continue with me into our 4th year. I now have a young student who is 14 years of age, and an elder who is 81 attending weaving around my kitchen table on Sundays.

I use traditional materials of Red Cedar, and Yellow Cedar, but have also combined steel, brass, and copper with the cedar for a more contemporary style of our traditional feast hats. I also use waxed Irish Linen cord on my fedora hats for the hat band, incorporating various colours and patterns in a style similar to Raven’s Tail weaving, and am always on the look out for new techniques, styles, or materials that I can incorporate with the traditional materials that I harvest for my weaving.

The year 2013 has been a very exciting year for me! It began with the notification that I was a successful applicant for a BC Arts Council Grant, the announcement from BC Creative Achievement for First Nations Art, and a Canada Arts Council Grant.

I love weaving, creating, challenging myself! I work with cedar every day and will for many years to come! The Haida believe that the cedar tree is a sister and as such we treat her with great respect for all that she gives!

Cedar bark is said to be every woman’s elder sister.
(Swanton, 1905b: 29)

Bio

I began gathering cedar bark in 2000 with my friends and mentors Barney Edgars, Darren Edgars and Rolly Williams. Cedar bark gathering requires extensive knowledge, skill, preparation and organization. I started my studies in weaving with my mentor, Christine Carty, in 2008, as well as gathering, preparing, and weaving with other Haida weavers, Leona Clow, Ina Biron, Clara Hugo, and Hope Setso. These weavers, as well as many others, contribute to my motivation to create pieces that uphold the highest standards of quality and incorporate traditional Haida weaving techniques while still representing my innovative and contemporary approach to the craft.

I have woven over 170 pieces since 2008 (including a wide variety of hats, both traditional and contemporary, as well as baskets, purses, vases, and cedar roses woven with bark and ribbon) and will only use bark that I have pulled and prepared for weaving so that I can ensure uniformity and that the quality of the prepared materials is suitable for my projects. This gives me a good foundation for the beginning of my creations. While I use traditional materials for weaving, I also at times use contemporary colours, materials, and shapes, as well as also creating new patterns. I draw inspiration from many other cultures, weavers, and artists, but still weave using the traditional methods that I have been taught, thus showing my ancestors and other weavers my respect for the teachings handed down to me. While seeking to create pieces that are based on traditional methods, I also incorporate a strong contemporary voice that can reach across boundaries to draw attention to this form of art, and traditional Haida weaving in general.

2010, 2011 and 2012 participant in the All Island Art Show hosted at the Kaay Centre in Skidegate, BC. (See attached adjudicator’s statement for 2011).

Donations to organizations for fund raising include: Bow Meow Annual Art Auction (SPCA), Haida Lions Annual Telethon, local families and organizations for fund raising/auction.

2013 has been an exciting and fast paced year for me. It started with being asked to prepare information to be a featured artist on BC Ferries for 2013/2014 on their Northern route. I was then notified that I was successful with my application to the BC Arts Council to complete a “Transitional Robe” of pounded cedar bark. This is a huge learning curve, but a work in progress that I love! And to round out the year I was awarded a BC Creative Achievement Award for First Nations Art for my cedar bark weaving, and a Canada Arts Council Grant for a large project.

Work Samples

Types of Work I Do

Clothing and Apparel
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