Pole raising ceremony adds new art to UBC Indigenous farm
The 10-foot-tall yellow cedar sculpture is called Thunder Child
A new piece of artwork now graces an Indigenous garden at the University of British Columbia after a pole raising ceremony on Monday.
The 10-foot tall yellow cedar sculpture was carved by Algonquin artist David Robinson and its installation was one of three parts to the ceremony at the UBC Indigenous Health Research and Education Garden at UBC Farm on Monday afternoon.
The garden, where about 70 different medicinal plants are grown along with various types of food, received a new Musqueam name, xwc'ic'usum, which means 'place of growing.'
A small boulder was also covered with a bear grease and ochre mixture and sprinkled with eagle down to serve as a more permanent marker of the place.
Robinson spent about 800 hours carving the sculpture over four months.
"I carved this 10 foot yellow cedar by hand. No power tools were used in any part of it, and it's an honour to be here and to have it raised in a traditional pole raising ceremony," he said. "When I started this piece I basically just had a saw, a mallet ..."
Eventually, Robinson would also use an axe, chisels and sandpaper up to a 600 grit to leave the piece smooth and fluid in form.
The artwork is somewhat abstract and differs from a traditional totem pole.
"What I try to do with all my pieces is achieve balance. I don't pre-design or anything like that," said Robinson.
"I call this piece Thunder Child, because I was hit by thunder during it," he said.
"I didn't get hit by the lightning. I looked up, and about five feet in front of me I saw the bolt start as a ball and get bigger and then basically, I got thrown back to the end of the piece," Robinson recounted.
"It felt like my body went in every direction. When I landed at the back of the piece, I looked myself over, still had the carving knife in my hand, ran inside, slammed the door and started laughing, because I was trying to lock the thunder out."