While walking around Gastown last week, we stumbled upon an art gallery around the corner featuring some really beautiful pieces that we wanted to share with you. The art form is known as Birch Bark Biting. There was a little girl playing in the front window that reminded Jonathan of Sofia, and given he’s missing his little girl who has been vacationing in Brasil, he had to pop over to say hello. The girl’s Grandmother came outside and invited us into the gallery to have a look.
Years ago, before technology took over as our primary source of entertainment, an ancient First Nation tradition was used to entertain the kids during the shorter days of winter. Prior to European contact, the art of Birch Bark Biting was commonly used as a source of entertainment. The people would create patterns on birch bark by simply biting it, which would light up when held in front of a campfire, depicting dreams and stories that were shared and passed on to newer generations. Today there are only 3 known First Nation artists in Canada (and possibly North America) who still practice this traditional art form.
Pat Bruderer, also known as Half Moon Woman, was born in Churchill, Manitoba and is the mother of 5 children. Pat grew up in the Mosakahiken Cree Nation Reserve in Manitoba and now resides in Chase, BC. An acclaimed artist, Pat has won many awards at the Annual Trappers Festival in The Pas, Manitoba and was the Juried Art winner in 2000. She also facilitates several workshops in traditional Birch Bark Biting.
Pat believes Birch Bark Biting has many teachings: patience, respect, kindness, creativity, medicine, imagination and sharing. Birch Bark Biting is like people – no two are the same and every one is special and beautiful in their own way.
Pat uses the 4 elements in her work: earth, water, wind and fire. She strongly believes that First Nations people should strive to maintain their traditional art forms. Her art has been featured in the Glenbow Museum, Museum of Man and Nature and several private collections in Canada, Switzerland, Scotland, France, Germany, Africa, China, Malaysia, Hawaii and Alaska.
The gallery is now closed until after the Olympics and is being used as a media centre throughout the Games. It’s disappointing that these pieces won’t be featured over the coming weeks, given their rarity and close ties to our Aboriginal history, which is why we felt it was important to share this fascinating artwork with you.
To view Pat Bruderer’s online gallery, visit the Half Moon Studios website: www.halfmoonstudios.com