Kelvin Thompson was born on November 5, 1958 in Ste.Rose Du Lac, Manitoba. Thompson had the opportunity to study under Haisla artists Barry and Derek Wilson at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Centre starting in 1979, and then carved a totem pole for the Centre in 1980 with Henry Robinson. Robinson’s family adopted Thompson into his Haisla family, and Haisla style has influenced Thompsons work greatly.
Thompson is well known for using intricate detail, deep gauging, oxidized backgrounds and cut-out and overlaid work. Unlike some artists that use patterns, Thompson creates his pieces individually, resulting in a portfolio full of unique and mesmerizing motifs that attract collectors worldwide.
Thompson has taught many artists how to work in silver and gold, including Kwakwaka'wakw artist Clinton Work, who designed our logo. In the Fall of 2007, Thompson and Kwakwaka’wakw/Haida artist Dan Wallace collaborated in teaching the first annual Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts Program, which was offered at Vancouver’s Native Education College.
Thompson has been commissioned to create pieces for famed musicians James Taylor, Elvis Costello, Diana Krall and Elton John, and is sure to continue creating stunning works for collectors to marvel at.
Killer Whale Bracelet by Kelvin Thompson
Killer Whale is a traveler and guardian. Symbolizing both power and beauty, Killer Whales are significant of love and kinship, as they mate for life, travel with their pods and are fierce protectors of their young.
The Haida believe that Killer Whales are equivalent to humans, and that their undersea world societies are deeply complex. Killer Whale belongs to both the Eagle and Raven moieties of the Haida. Killer Whale is depicted differently, depending on affiliation to a particular clan. Killer Whales associated with Eagle Clan have a white stripe across the base of their dorsal fin, whereas those correlated with Raven Clan are black and do not have the stripe. If a Killer Whale has a hole in his fin, it is because he is associated with the supernatural realm. In design, the hole is marked as a round circle.
Killer Whales are considered Ancestors of many tribes on Vancouver Island, and as such, are thought to live in deep undersea villages, where they can take off their skin to emulate human beings.
Killer Whale remains one of the most commonly depicted motifs in Northwest Coast Art, perhaps second to Raven – an indication of prominence and importance.
Cheryl Shearar Understanding Northwest Coast Art (2000)
Conversations with Ehattesaht Artist Cecil Billy