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Mask of Plenty

George clutesi

George Clutesi was born in Port Alberni in 1905. In school he began to draw but recieved little support from his teachers. After school Clutesi worked first as a fisherman, and then in construction. While at work, he suffered a fall which broke his back. After recovering at the Vancouver General Hospital, he began to consider a return to art.

During the 1940’s and 1950’s Clutesi experimented with works in oils. Through his friends Anthony Walsh and Ira Dilworth, he was introduced to Emily Carr and to Lawren Harris, who encouraged his development as an artist. Carr was so impressed with his work that she left him her painting supplies when she died.

Throughout his career, Clutesi was involved in studying and writing about West Coast First Nations culture. In 1961, he spoke to the British Columbia Historical Association on Northwest Coast aboriginal art. In his address to the audience, he stated:

(Native Canadians) are the bearers of a rich cultural inheritance that must be repossessed by its rightful heirs before it is forgotten and relegated entirely to the musty vaults of museums, there to lie as specimens of art crafts of a past and remote ethnic group.

In 1971, Clutesi was awarded an honourary doctorate by the University of Victoria. He worked on many artistic projects, including a large mural for the Canadian Pavilion at Expo 67. Clutesi died in Victoria in 1988.

Robert Aller and George Clutesi were friends for many years. Both men helped to create the Community Arts Council of the Alberni Valley, and were honoured for this contribution with life time memberships. Clutesi also opened Robert Aller’s retrospective at the Rollin Art Centre. This was a fitting tribute, since Aller had arranged Clutesi’s first exhibition many years before.

1990 Potlatch
Gray’s Publishing, Sidney, B.C.
  Stand Tall My Son
Newport Bay Publishing, Victoria, B.C.
1967 Son of Raven, Son of Deer: Fables of the Tse-Shaht People
Gray’s Publishing, Sidney, B.C.

Selected Filmography

1988 The Gift
Beachcomber Series, CBC, B.C.
1977 Dreamspeaker
CBC, Vancouver, B.C.
1976 So Sings the Wolf
The Devonian Group
1973 I Heard the Owl Call My Name
Tomorrow Entertainment