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
Laboradite Sisiutl Pendant by Chris Cook III
Supernatural and mystical, Sisiutl is a double headed Sea Serpent, and one of the highest ranking crests of Kwakwaka’wakw society. It is dangerous to cross paths with Sisiutl, as touching or looking at him can cause instant death. It is said that those who tempt the wrath of Sisiutl will be washed in their own blood, though legend suggests Medicine Men once tried to kill the Sisiutl for his magic and healing powers. Sisiutl is psychic and can foretell the future, and he also has the ability to see backwards and forwards at the same time – making him a challenge to conquer. Sisiutl can transform himself into a human at any time, and due to his characteristics as a pertinacious protector of the supernatural kingdoms he guards, he is affiliated with war and death.
A beautiful Sisiutl guards the village of ‘Yalis (Alert Bay), erected at the ferry where the majority of visitors arrive. His purpose is to protect the village and his people, much as warriors would often wear a headband with an image of Sisiutl, and travel in canoes that had Sisiutl painted along the sides to protect them from harm.
Depicted with a large face, sharp teeth and curled tongue, Sisiutl’s head controls the symmetrical appendages on the left and right, which each have a wolf-like head. Sisiutl is sometimes depicted as a long straight creature with the wolf-like heads gazing in opposite directions, and other times with the left and right appendages curving upward above the head, reaching towards the center where the two heads face one another.
Campbell River Museum & Archives
Conversations with 'Namgis Seaweed Family
Conversations with Musgamagw Dzawada'enuxw Artist Jackson Roberston