Kwakwaka'wakw Master Carver Bill Henderson was born in 1950 and is a member of the Wei Wai Kum First Nation in Campbell River, BC. Bill is one of seventeen children born to the artist Sam Henderson and his wife, May Quocksister Henderson. Several of his siblings became artists, including his brothers Ernie, Dan, and Mark. His father Sam was originally from Ba’as (Blunden Harbour), on the north coast, but after marrying May settled in Campbell River. Bill watched his father create carvings and other artworks from a young age and by the age of seven Bill had created his first piece, a small whale plaque for his first-grade teacher.
When Bill reached his teen years he became more serious about his carving and at the age of nineteen he started to sell his work. Since then his skills have grown and he has kept his family's traditional style of carving. Like his father Sam, Bill works directly on the wood. "I design from my head onto the log and carve." Bill is also known for mixing his own signature acrylic colours that he uses for his masks, paddles, and carvings. Although Bill Henderson has carved many totem poles over the years, he is happiest working on masks. In 2008, after thirty-one years as a professional carver, Bill Henderson had his first solo exhibition at the Inuit Gallery in Vancouver.
Today Bill Henderson is a very respected Northwest Coast Master Carver that is passing his experience and skill on to the next generation of carvers. His masks, bowls, paddles, and other carvings are collected all over the world. We are very proud to represent Bill Henderson at Spirits of the West Coast Gallery.
Reference: Thom, I. M. (2009). Challenging traditions: contemporary First Nations art of the Northwest Coast. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre.