First Nations Artists Profile Series: Chris Sparrow and Rande Cook

By Monique Cotton

Periodically on this blog we will be highlighting some of the artists whose work is featured in our offices.

On a pedestal that welcomes you to the JFK Victoria Office is a sculpted yellow cedar orca by Chris Sparrow. Hanging just above the orca is a dramatic butterfly wall panel by Rande Cook. I recently had the opportunity to discuss these pieces with the artists.

Chris Sparrow

Sparrow orca 2 350pxChris Sparrow is a Coast Salish artist living in Musqueam, B.C. He grew up on the Salish Seas with his grandfather, dad and uncles and now Chris continues to spend time around the beaches of Campbell River collecting materials and inspiration for future projects.

Chris is particularly proud of this piece from his 2013 collection. He was inspired to create it after watching a pod of orcas on a summer day. Later that night he woke up with a vision of the sun shining off the back of an orca and knew that image would define the piece. Chris had the perfect wood for this orca; a piece of yellow cedar driftwood he’d found on a Campbell River beach and had been drying in his studio for three years. Sparrow orca 3 350px He says the most challenging part of this piece was carving and setting the sun’s rays to face the right way on the orca’s back. The bronze paint along the body represents the rays of the sun and the blue paint in the tail represents the water.

Chris started carving 22 years ago when his dad taught him at the age of 9. He says that the last 5 years have been his most inspired and improved period – which he credits to his two children, which are his true inspiration. During this time, he placed 1st and 2nd in the Transformations on the Shore carving contest.Sparrow orca 1 350px

Chris is currently working on a number of 3D carvings including these spectacular hummingbirds, as well as glass works, soapstone carvings and two privately commissioned Totem Poles.Sparrow hummingbird 1 250px



Cook panel 2 350px

 Rande Cook

Rande Cook grew up in the community of Alert Bay, just off the northeast coast of Vancouver Island. He is Kwakwaka’wakw, and a Hereditary Chief passed down from his grandfather, Chieftain Gus Matilpi.

Rande says art has always been his greatest passion; a passion that was cultivated by his grandfather. Rande spent his childhood watching his grandfather in his studio.  He recalls every day being a new lesson, from which he learned to work hard, and to always do it for love, not money. Thanks to that passion, Rande is now an award winning artist, most recently winning the 2015 BC Arts Achievement Award.

Cook panel 1 350pxThis dynamic piece was commissioned by the Malahat Nation for a fundraising auction. The butterfly represents a metamorphosis, or the transformation of the nation into an urban world, with economic development growing together with a flourishing culture. Rande says the piece materialized naturally.  He chose to use a sand blasting technique to create the textured detail of the grain in a red cedar laminate panel. The colours of the butterfly reflect the Malahat Nation and the colours within the Malahat emblem.Cook panel 3 350px

Rande’s studio is open to the public 5 days a week, where you can find Rande working on various projects ranging from carvings, sculptures, paintings and development designs to jewellery and professional logos.