Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art: To Speak With a Golden Voice

Comments 16 by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art has reopened and will be celebrating the milestone centennial birthday of Bill Reid (1920–1998) with an exhibition about his extraordinary life and legacy, To Speak With a Golden Voice, from July 16, 2020 to April 11, 2021.

Portrait of Bill Reid, c.1976. Painting by Chris Hopkins in 2005. Courtesy of the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art.
Portrait of Bill Reid, c.1976. Painting by Chris Hopkins in 2005. Courtesy of the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art.

To Speak With a Golden Voice

  • Where: 639 Hornby St, Vancouver
  • When: July 16, 2020 – April 11, 2021
    • Closed Mon/Tues, open Wed-Sun 11:00am to 5:00pm
  • Admission: Purchase online in advance

Guest curated by Gwaai Edenshaw — considered to be Reid’s last apprentice — the group exhibition includes rarely seen treasures by Reid and works from artists such as Robert Davidson and Beau Dick. Tracing the iconic Haida artist’s lasting influence, two new artworks by contemporary artist Cori Savard (Haida) and singer-songwriter Kinnie Starr (Mohawk/Dutch/German//Irish) will be created for this highly anticipated exhibition.

“Bill Reid was a master goldsmith, sculptor, community activist, and mentor whose lasting legacy and influence has been cemented by his fusion of Haida traditions with his own modernist aesthetic,” says Edenshaw. “Just about every Northwest Coast artist working today has a connection or link to Reid. Before he became renowned for his artwork, he was a CBC radio announcer recognized for his memorable voice — in fact, one of Reid’s many Haida names was Kihlguulins, or ‘golden voice.’ His role as a public figure helped him become a pivotal force in the resurgence of Northwest Coast art, introducing the world to its importance and empowering generations of artists.”

Bill Reid at the CBC, c.1950. Courtesy of the CBC.
Bill Reid at the CBC, c.1950. Courtesy of the CBC.

To Speak With a Golden Voice will provide new insights into the nuanced facets and creative complexities of Reid’s life and legacy. The exhibition will follow four thematic threads, beginning with Voice, a look at Reid’s career at CBC and his prolific writings, including archival recordings of his thoughts on Northwest Coast art. Voice will be central to the exhibition, including audio narratives, literary excerpts, and a commissioned sound-based artwork by Kinnie Starr that incorporates Reid’s voice. 

The second thread will be an examination of Reid’s creative journey, or Process, which was affected by the many colonial policies still in place during the 1950s when he began exploring his heritage. The exhibition will include rarely seen sketchbooks, drawings, paper maquettes, casting molds, and works in progress from private and public collections.

The third thread will be a study of Lineage, with works by Reid’s contemporaries and the successors who considered him an influence. Artists will include Robert Davidson, Beau Dick and Joe David, as well as others who never met Reid but found inspiration in his life and career. Haida artist Cori Savard will create a new work based on Reid’s deep-rooted impact on Indigenous and Haida art.

In the final thread of Legacy, Reid’s multi-faceted and occasionally controversial life will be given fresh perspective. Departing from the public persona and staid portrait of the artist, the exhibition will provide new insights through the voices and stories of those who personally knew him. Short films featuring interviews with George Rammell, Don Yeomans, Rick Adkins, Chief 7idansuu James Hart, and more will be on display. 

Bill Reid with his sculpture, Raven and the First Men, c.1980. Photo by Bill McLennan. Courtesy UBC Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada.
Bill Reid with his sculpture, Raven and the First Men, c.1980. Photo by Bill McLennan. Courtesy UBC Museum of Anthropology, Vancouver, Canada.

Bill’s Birthday Bash

The gallery will publish a new exhibition catalogue in the fall of 2020 with essays by curator Edenshaw, Nika Collison, Martine Reid, and more. 

In honour of Bill Reid’s centennial, a weekend of special events will ensue on August 15 & 16, 2020. Bill’s Birthday Bash will include artist demonstrations, artist interviews, and exhibition tours via livestream. A limited number of free admission tickets for entry to the gallery will be available. Pre-book early to reserve your birthday bash entry. Follow the gallery on Facebook for more info.

Win Tickets

I have a pair of admission passes to give away to this exhibit starting July 16th. Here’s how you can enter to win:

  • Leave a comment on this post (1 entry)
  • Click below to post an entry on Twitter
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I will draw one winner at random from all entries at 12:00pm on Monday, June 29, 2020. UPDATE The winner is Lynda!

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16 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

  1. Don MWednesday, June 24th, 2020 — 7:29pm PDT

    Bill Reid has had a great influence on the introduction of West Coast Native art to the community. It would be a great honour to be able to attend the presentation.

  2. Ray CWednesday, June 24th, 2020 — 7:43pm PDT

    Bill Reid is a brilliant artist

  3. RenateWednesday, June 24th, 2020 — 8:49pm PDT

    Very nice! I would love to see the exhibit

  4. SarahWednesday, June 24th, 2020 — 9:03pm PDT

    Ooooh that would be amazing

  5. Brenda ChinnWednesday, June 24th, 2020 — 9:16pm PDT

    Bill Reid is a phenomenal artist!

  6. LindsayThursday, June 25th, 2020 — 6:50am PDT

    His artwork is amazing – definitely will check out 🙂

  7. Tabby72Thursday, June 25th, 2020 — 7:06am PDT

    Thanks for this opportunity, I would love to see this exhibition!

  8. KirstenThursday, June 25th, 2020 — 11:00am PDT

    This sounds fantastic! I would love to win this awesome prize!

  9. TracyThursday, June 25th, 2020 — 2:53pm PDT

    Would love to attend

  10. ValerieFriday, June 26th, 2020 — 9:26am PDT

    Very glad to see they are reopening.

  11. LyndaFriday, June 26th, 2020 — 10:19am PDT

    Fascinating !!! Would LOVE to see this exhibition ~ thank you for the chance 🙂

  12. TEDFriday, June 26th, 2020 — 10:20am PDT

    Happy to see they are re-opening. Would love to see this exhibit – Bill Reid’s work is amazing !!!

  13. LyndaFriday, June 26th, 2020 — 10:21am PDT

    Would LOVE to see this exhibit ~ Thank you for the opportunity 🙂

  14. CheukFriday, June 26th, 2020 — 8:35pm PDT

    Happy Birthday, Bill.

  15. Nancy BSaturday, June 27th, 2020 — 8:47pm PDT

    What an opportunity! I can only hope…

  16. BobSunday, June 28th, 2020 — 9:49pm PDT

    It’s great that cultural institutions are re-opening. Stay safe and enjoy some culture!

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