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
Topaz Killer Whale Pendant by Chris Cook III
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