Robert Barratt

Robert Barratt

Robert Barratt has spent most of his adult life in West Vancouver, British Columbia.  Before becoming an artist he had careers in law and in teaching at Simon Fraser University in Shakespearean Studies. He began an apprenticeship in 1998 under the wise and generous tutelage of Nisga’a master carver, Norman Tait and his partner, Lucinda Turner. Barratt worked alongside his mentors on projects ranging from totem poles to gallery pieces such as bowls and masks.

Barratt has also taught basic and advanced carving skills to countless students through his West Vancouver group, the Klee Wyck Carvers as well as the Shuswap School of Woodcarving, in Sorrento B.C.  He assisted Tlingit Master Carver, Israel Shotridge in the completion of several totem poles, and Kwagiulth Master Carver, Chief Tony Hunt in the repair and restoration of the 12’ Haida style totem pole at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal.  The artist spent the summer of ’04 in Ketchikan, AK, working on a 40’ totem pole with Shotridge.  At the potlatch for the pole raising, Barratt was given the Tlingit name, Kaa yakgwaheiyagh K’aa a yax Kach’aak’u, which means, Spirit Carver.  He currently lives and works on Bowen Island, just off the coast from Vancouver, B.C.

For me, the compelling appeal of the Nisga’a style is its paradoxical capacity to express power and mystery with that ‘elegant’ and ‘expressive’ beauty.  Working with a Nisga’a Master Carver like Norman Tait has resulted in a natural desire to emulate both his techniques and his style.  The techniques are forever, but I have also evolved a style of my own.  I endeavor nonetheless to handle traditional pieces with a reverent adherence to the principles passed on to me by Norman and Lucinda.  This approach has also been reinforced by all the other great teachers I have had the good fortune to work with.”          Robert Barratt

THE ARTIST:
Robert has spent most of his adult life in West Vancouver, British Columbia. He has managed for much of that time to keep the-artist-within carefully repressed. Initially beneath the cool hard veneer of a law career, then another decade behind a somewhat less antithetical career as a graduate student and Sessional Instructor in Shakespeare Studies at Simon Fraser University. Final release of the creative force, so long held in check, began in March, 1998 under the wise and generous tutelage of Nisga’a master carver, Norman Tait and his partner, Lucinda Turner. Robert’s skills were developed by working alongside his mentors on projects ranging from totem poles to gallery pieces such as bowls and masks.

Robert has been carving his own commissions and gallery pieces for several years and has also assisted Tlingit Master Carver, Israel Shotridge in the completion of several smaller totem poles, and Kwagiulth Master Carver, Chief Tony Hunt in the repair and restoration of the 12′ Haida style totem pole at the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. Robert spent the summer of ’04 in Ketchikan, Alaska, working on a 40′ totem pole with Israel Shotridge. At the potlatch for the pole raising, Robert was given the Tlingit name, Kaa yakgwaheiyagh K’aa a yax Kach’aak’u, which means, Spirit Carver.

THE ART:

“In comparing the most distinctive styles of art on the northwest coast, Bill Reid felt that ‘the Tsimshian [Nisga’a] were the most expressive.’ One gallery owner has described Nisga’a art as ‘the most elegant style on the coast.’ For me, the compelling appeal of the Nisga’a style is its paradoxical capacity to express power and mystery with that ‘elegant and ‘expressive’ beauty. Working with a Nisga’a Master Carver like Norman Tait has resulted in a natural desire to emulate both his techniques and his style. The techniques are forever, but I have also evolved a style of my own. I endeavour nonetheless to handle traditional pieces with the reverent adherence to the principles passed on to me by Norman and Lucinda. This approach has also been reinforced by all the other great teachers I have had the good fortune to work with.”