Tofino, B.C.- (August, 10, 2016) – From September 10 through 21, 2016, the Carving on the Edge Festival in Tofino, BC will showcase traditional and contemporary west coast wood carving with exhibits, forums, feasts, workshops and demonstrations. This year’s festival theme, Grounded. People to the Land, invites carvers of all skill levels and lovers of art and culture to explore the relationship between Tla-o-qui-aht artists to their traditional territorial land.

Since 2010, traditional carvers have gathered at the Carving on the Edge Festival to share ideas and skills with other carvers, communities and youth. “The festival is growing, gaining momentum and recognition.” observes Gordon Dick, Nuu-chah-nulth carver and one of the festival’s organizers. “As artists we need to remind ourselves of our relationship to our rich forests, watersheds, and coastal waters.”

On the evening of Friday, September 17, 2016, Tla-o-qui- aht Language Apprentice Gisele Martin will examine this relationship in her presentation ‘The Land is Our Teacher’, a discussion about how the Tla-o-qui-aht people and the life force of this land are one, and how the Nuu-chah-nulth language reflects the people’s identity and place. There will also be opportunities for on the water cultural tours, paddling a traditional canoe with guides.

Carving remains at the heart of Carving on the Edge, and this year’s festival will include a fine art exhibit and hands-on workshops for all ages and skill levels. “We want to give back, using the gifts that we have, to share appreciation of the art and to teach,” explains Tim Paul, Nuu-chah-nulth master carver and one of the festival’s founders. “The way we work has changed, but not the passage of the knowledge. As carvers we can give a sense of support, both physical and spiritual, to the younger community.”

On September 16 and 17, 2016, Tla-o-qui-aht master canoe carver Joe Martin will pass on his knowledge during his Nuu-chah-nulth Bentwood Box workshop as he introduces the traditional teachings and uses of the bentwood box, and guides participants to make their own.

The festival art show will kick-off on September 14 with an opening celebration featuring a traditional welcoming to the Tla-o-qui-aht territory with drumming and singing and an opportunity to meet the carving artists. The show will run until September 21 and will feature the Virtual Museum Project, a multi-media installation on a curated collection of carved Nuu-chah-nulth items being held in museums across the world. There will also be a display honouring the carving career of the late George David.

Now in it’s seventh year, the festival continues to expand its program to give a glimpse of how diverse and rich the carving culture is on Vancouver Island alone. “Each year we draw in our neighbors to build a broader carving community and to share the art form with the world” explains Norma Dryden, festival coordinator and a founding member. “The festival touches the lives of young people, young artists, and with today’s new tools we can keep the cultural teachings going beyond the festival.”

Evidence of the festival’s impact on the cultural landscape can be found in Port Alberni’s Gaiga Park where Teaching Foresight, a 10-foot cedar panel carved by Nuu-chah-nulth carvers Gordon Dick and Kelly Robinson at the 2015 Carving on the Edge Festival, stands as a public art installation.

“The idea for the Carving Festival was conceived when we thought about all of the art coming out of this region that was in museums and collections around the world, as well as the internationally-acclaimed carvers and historians of the region,” Dryden explains. “At the same time contemporary artists were coming here to study these long traditions, so we wanted to showcase the energy and art that comes from these renowned old-growth forests.”

Key festival sponsors include the District of Tofino, BC Arts Council, Province of BC, Leon and Thea Koerner Award, Friends of Clayoquot Sound, Raincoast Education Society, Clayoquot Biosphere Trust, Tashii Paddle School and Tourism Tofino.

For more information on the festival or to register for a workshop, visit www.carvingedgefestival.com or email carvingfest@gmail.com.

For media inquires contact Norma Dryden, 250-726-5230; carvingfest@gmail.com

2016 CARVING FESTIVAL POSTER