CHRIS COOK III
Ogwilagamey (Chris Cook III) was born in ‘Yalis (Alert Bay) and is a hereditary chief of the ‘Namgis. Being born into a high ranking and traditional family, Cook is an avid storyteller and historian – a gift that he is able to harness through his creativity. As a child, Cook loved sketching, and studied metal work and machinery while in high school. In 1998, he received his BA in History from the University of Victoria, and was also enrolled in the silversmith courses at Camosun College while he was at UVIC. His prior metal working skills and sketching abilities were soon realized, and he was eagerly designing and producing art jewellery full time.
Cook credits Francis Dick for encouraging him to apply his metal working skills with Kwakwaka’wakw design. He was one of the first ‘Namgis artists to start inlaying semi-precious gem stones into his jewellery, something that has become a signature of his workmanship. Cook has spent many years refining his skills as a jeweler, even traveling to Italy to apprentice with the famous Bulgarian Silversmith Valentin Yotkov.
More recently, Cook has been experimenting with a metal-rolling technique, creating unique copper pendants with abstract designs. He has crafted many unusual pieces from silver, including silver goblets, beautiful lockets, a silver adorned headdress and even an exquisite gold and emerald dragonfly urn-pendant with a hollow body for holding ashes. Innovative, professional and prolific, Chris Cook III is dedicated to producing quality pieces, and has made a number of custom ordered rings, bracelets and pendants for us. If you are interested in commissioning a piece by Cook, please contact us for more information. Cook speaks and teaches Kwak’wala, and is active in his community as a dancer, singer and historian.
2006-2007: Totems to Turquoise:Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest; American Museum of Natural History
2011: Chasing Form: New Directions in Repousse; Group Exhibition – Alcheringa Gallery, Victoria BC
Abalone Sea Otter Ring by Chris Cook III
Sea Otters have significant connection to the birth of the Silver Trade of the Pacific Northwest Coast, as it was the trade of Sea Otter pelts for metal copper sheets used for hull repairs on European ships that ignited not only the coastal fur trade, but also sparked the beginning of metal jewellery carving among coastal peoples.
Marine Biologists have long stressed the importance for the return of sea otter populations, due to the immense pressure placed on the kelp forest by invertebrates such as abalones and sea urchins. As these invertebrates are favoured sustenance by sea otters, the return of sea otter population spells better health for marine and human life from the Pacific Northwest, and south to California.
Though they hunt and forage alone, sea otters gather in large numbers with other otters of the same sex, and bind themselves together and to the kelp in what scientists call "rafts." The kelp protects the raft of sea otters from drifting to sea while they are resting. Male rafts are generally larger than female rafts, and can include from 10-2000 sea otters per group.
Sea otters are considered challenging to hunt, and are often depicted in coastal art as playful and smart. Sea otters remain an endangered species.
Kari Chalker - Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest 2004
Cheryl Shearar - Understanding Northwest Coast Art
Online Source - Why are Sea Otters Important? No Sea Otters, No Kelp Forest www.seaotters.com