Down from the Mountaintop - A Private Collection in Argillite
Carved from a unique variety of black slate found only at Slatechuck Mountain on Haida Gwaii, argillite carvings have fascinated collectors across the world ever since they were first created and bartered to fur traders by the Haida in the early nineteenth century. As a new art form exempt from the strict demands of tradition, argillite provided its carvers with a special outlet for creative and unusual artistic impulses. Some of the first argillite pieces carved in Haida Gwaii portrayed not traditional motifs, but rather European fur traders standing in their ships. The intervening two hundred years have seen argillite carving develop from “tourist art” into an internationally coveted and culturally significant artistic medium.
We are very fortunate to be able to offer this collection, a group of carvings acquired over the past fifty years by one individual collector and representing an illuminating cross-section of argillite art, from tiny and unusual carvings to sculptures epic in scope and intense in detail. In looking at the collection it becomes apparent that argillite carving runs in the family; master carver cousins Christian White and Darrell White contribute one piece each, while the Russ family - including the father-son tandem of Ron Russ and Marcel Russ, and their relatives, brothers Gary Minaker Russ and the late Ed Russ - is collectively responsible for over a third of the collection.
Please enjoy this remarkable collection.