Harold Alfred was born in 1953 in Alert Bay on Cormorant Island near the Northeast tip of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. He belongs to the Namgis tribe and is a member of the Kwak-waka’wakw (formerly Kwakiutl) Nation. Alfred's works are sold in such places as the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Royal British Columbia Provincial Museum.
Growing up in Alert Bay, one couldn’t help but be influenced by the great Masters of the past. As a result, Alfred produces outstanding work which has a contemporary feel with a strong sense of the past. Alfred shows his respect for his heritage by observing the high standards set by past Masters and applies the same standards of quality and workmanship to his own art works. In his work he strives to apply and impart love, hope and joy.
Alfred’s distinct lines and forms clearly depict strong traditional designs true to the Kwak-waka’wakw art form. His crest is the powerful Thunderbird, with its curled horns and curved beak, which is one of the founding Crests of the Namgis.
Alfred presently lives in Victoria, BC with his family.
Thunderbird & Lightening Bolt Brooch by Harold Alfred
Master of the Winter Ceremonies, Thunderbird is a massive, mystical and powerful bird who creates thunder by beating his wings, and whose eyes flash with lightening. Thunderbird is so strong he can lift whales into the sky. For this reason, Thunderbird is associated with sustenance, as he was called upon during times of difficulty. Thunderbird is credited with bringing whales to the people, which they would sometimes follow for days before they were able to strike.
Thunderbird is central in many legends on the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the stories about Thunderbird involves a young boy named Twisted Foot, who isn’t permitted to carve with the men because he is crippled. He sets off in a little craft, rowing far away from the village, feeling hurt and ashamed for being the subject of ridicule and rejection. On his journey, he meets Thunderbird. Twisted Foot tells Thunder Bird that if he could have the chance to carve with the men, he would carve Thunder Bird at the very top of his totem pole. Thunder Bird is quite impressed with this idea, and so he lifts Twisted Foot and his little boat into his wings, and flies him home. Of course, Twisted Foot was received with honor and was never teased again. And he kept his promise to carve Thunder Bird at the top of the Totem Pole, which is why to this day Thunder Bird is never seen anywhere else on any Totem Pole he graces.
Thunderbird, Eagle and Kolus look very similar, but one way to decipher a Thunderbird from the others is to look for his ear appendage, which sits on top but near the back of his head, and curls back. Eagle’s appendage is not curled and Kolus’s appendage is reminiscent of a rectangular shaped feather that is positioned horizontally above his head.
Campbell River Museum & Archives