Charles (Temosen) Elliott was a member of the T’sartlip First Nation. He lived and worked in Brentwood Bay on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. As a young artist, Charles carved designs on the bark of the cottonwood trees and styled his own small poles and model canoes with coaching from his father, mother and uncles.
Like his contemporaries, at the beginning of his practice, he conducted extensive personal research and study of Coast Salish artifacts and designs. He was one of the pioneers of the revival of Salish art, and an inspiration to younger generations of artists, including his nephew Chris Paul.
For five decades, Charles created traditional utilitarian and ceremonial wood carvings, as well as contemporary Coast Salish designs and artworks. Through his work, Charles expressed an unwavering commitment to the visual language of his own people. He taught the history of Salish art in schools and mentored established and emerging artists alike.
Charles was an internationally recognized master carver and artist in the Coast Salish traditional style; his works are in private and corporate collections worldwide. On the occasion of the 15th Commonwealth Games held in Victoria, BC, he contributed to such international ambassadorial works as the Queen’s Baton and talking stick for Nelson Mandela.
The residents of Greater Victoria cherish Elliott’s public artworks seen at the Victoria International Airport, the Butchart Gardens, the University of Victoria, and the Saanich Peninsula Hospital. His designs of fish and sea creatures adorn the Centre for the Salish Sea, in Sidney, British Columbia, and a metal sculpture of fish of the Salish Sea is located outside at the front of the centre.
Charles built and carved a podium that was used at the 2013 Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. Commissioned by the University of Victoria, the podium is now used in the Great Hall of the First Peoples House located on campus. The altar of St. Andrew’s cathedral in Victoria, BC is also the work of Elliott.
Charles was awarded the Order of British Columbia in 2005 for his contribution to the enrichment of the lives of his contemporaries and future generations. In 2013, he was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
Charles Elliott’s Sunrise was on August 22, 1943, and his Sunset was on January 29, 2023. He is missed by his wife and children, his numerous relatives, his T’sartlip community, and many friends and artists of Vancouver Island and British Columbia, and beyond. RIP Temosen.