SpruceRoots Magazine - September/October 2000


Garner Moody at work on the Ts'aahl Pole at Qay'llnagaay

the carvers

There's always music in Garner Moody's shed, the radio's on, and
familiar rock and roll tunes hang over the carvers and their work.
It's tucked away from the beach, the furthest west, and the closest
to the village his pole will represent. Garner's the lead carver but
he doesn't fuss over Billy Bellis or Tony Green his assistants. Everyone
knows what's going on, what their job is, and they simply go ahead and do it.

This pole exudes strength. The lines are bold and cut deep, lending the work
dimensions unique among those already carved. It features a beaver, bear,
raven, and eagle, but once completed, the centerpiece of the pole will be the
five-fin killer whale. The fins aren't on the pole yet, Garner's waiting for the
wood, but the long, curved, naked back of the killer already stands out, and it
prompted a few odd comments from visitors who struggled with it.

"Just wait until we get the fins on, people should stop asking 'what's that -
a canoe?'" laughs Garner.

Garner began carving 27 years ago. He worked on the Loo Taa with Bill Reid
and alongside a host of accomplished carvers including Alfred Collinson, Rufus
Moody, Giitsxaa, Nelson Cross, and Ding (Melvin) Hutchingson.

Billy's no amateur either. He's been at it 23 years, including a stint at Bill Reid's
Granville Island studio, and today produces everything from silkscreen prints to
masks and gold castings. His first love though is cedar poles and he's clearly
enjoying this project.

With more than a decade of carving in wood, silver, gold, and argillite behind
him, it seems odd that Tony has the least experience on this team, but speaks well
of the expertise assembled here.

The merits of paint are debated. Garner says a little here and there definitely improves
the look of a pole in the beginning, but the weather takes a toll, and over time faded,
peeling paint can leave a tattered impression.

These guys know their work will stand right here at home for many years, it's a
momentous project and the fact isn't lost on them. But they'd rather revel in its
significance than let it intimidate them.

"The great thing about it is every time we come down here and visit we'll remember
all the good times we had, and the laughs," Garner says.
And then Billy replies: "The first of many, eh Garner?" ::

SpruceRoots Magazine - September/October 2000