Totem Poles were historically carved to commemorate a special event, to archive a family history, or to tell a story. Poles continue to be made in this same fashion today and we are excited to share with you a current totem pole commission with Haida artist Robert Davidson. This 22’ totem pole measures 5’ wide at the base, making the scale monumental. This marks the third large scale totem pole commission with Robert for the Douglas Reynolds Gallery in the last 10 years. The other two totem poles are each 30’ tall.
During the design stage of the commission, Davidson discussed ideas with his client and then puts together his vision of how he feels the design of the totem pole should emerge.
There are two design phases – first is a sketch and second a maquette. Once the sketch is approved Robert begins carving of the maquette. He will then make an exact scale replica of the design he is going to carve. At this point, he is not concerned with details but rather the proportions of each of the main figures on the pole. Once the rough proportions of the piece are fleshed out he then uses these points as a reference to scale the design onto the log. When the pole is complete, Davidson will return to the unfinished maquette and finish it by, adding the details of the pole onto the maquette.