Bill Reid Gallery Highlights Haida Metalwork Practices and History in Vancouver Premiere Exhibition

Celebrated Haida artist Jesse Brillon makes Bill Reid Gallery debut with luminous exhibition of precious metal carvings celebrating ancestral connection.

By: Jun. 07, 2023
Bill Reid Gallery Highlights Haida Metalwork Practices and History in Vancouver Premiere Exhibition

Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art presents the Vancouver premiere exhibition of The Art of Dimension from July 4 – October 15, 2023.

A vibrant celebration of Haida metalwork practices, and a powerful artistic affirmation of Indigenous knowledge sharing across generations, The Art of Dimension features the copper, gold and silver carving artistry of Haida Gwaii's lauded Skil Xaaw Jesse Brillon, alongside Bill Reid's own masterful repoussé works. Brillon is widely known for his excellence in specialty precious metals techniques, including repoussé, chasing and lost-wax casting.

“Bill Reid is credited with introducing the European repoussé technique to the art of the Northwest Coast and inspiring and mentoring Indigenous artists in the craft,” says Beth Carter, Associate Curator with the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art. “With only a handful of Haida artists working in these techniques, Jesse Brillon has become one of the leading artists practicing repoussé and chasing today. We truly believe these mediums deserve celebration, visibility, and a public platform for their importance in Haida art and culture.”

Growing up as a close family friend to Bill Reid profoundly impacted Brillon's artwork. His first paid commission at age 18 was painting a Bill Reid original, drawn by the artist in the galley of a seine boat. Brillon cites Reid's immense body of work in repoussé as a major influence in his own metalwork artistry.

The exhibition further honours the roles of mentorship and family connections through the emerging voice and cedar sculptural works of Brillon's niece and protégé, award-winning Haida and Cree artist Haayłingtso Marlo Wylie Brillon, who also makes her Bill Reid Gallery debut.

The Art of Dimension features 14 recent elaborate repoussé carvings, along with cedar carvings and painted works by Jesse Brillon. Several modern works by Bill Reid will be showcased to encourage a dialogue between the two artists' work. Marlo Wylie Brillon's four featured cedar artworks reflect her close connection to Jesse Brillon, and his important role as a mentor for her artistic development since she was a young child.

Gallery visitors are also offered a rare and personal viewing of special dowry pieces created by Jesse Brillon for the 2022 marriage of his sister, Kalga Jaad Erin Brillon to artist Andy Everson. This was the first clan feast of the Laana Staadas clan in more than 150 years. These pieces include a printed canvas Laana Tsaadas Dance Screen, copper and ermine jihlk'yah (headdress), and a gold repoussé crest pole bracelet with abalone shell inlay. Also featured is Marlo Wylie Brillon's carved K'aaxada (dogfish shark) mask which was danced at the celebration.

The Art of Dimension premiered at the Haida Gwaii Museum in 2022. Bill Reid Gallery has expanded the original exhibition to include further information about Bill Reid's artistic influence on Jesse Brillon, a deeper exploration of the history of Haida metalwork, and additional details about the special marriage feast held by the Laana Staadas clan.

A series of ancillary events will support The Art of Dimension, including an opening celebration on Saturday, July 8, several workshops, an artist demonstration, artist talks, and public programs.

Admission information and a full list of events and registration details at:

Skil Xaaw Jesse Brillon resides in his home village of Skidegate, Haida Gwaii where he balances commercial fishing and a love of the environment with his art career. After high school, he apprenticed with Haida artist Don Yeomans and Gitksan master jeweller Phil Janze. Brillon has achieved a mastery of the form and now creates museum quality pieces individualized by their fineness, boldness, and depth. His works are held in private collections globally and have been exhibited at the American Museum of Natural History, the Museum of Vancouver, the Haida Gwaii Museum, and the Comox Valley Art Gallery.

Emerging artist Haayłingtso Marlo Wylie Brillon has studied Haida art from her uncle, Skil Xaaw Jesse Brillon, Kwakwaka'wakw art from Chief Kwamxalagalis Andy Everson, and steam bending to create bentwood boxes from Richard Sumner, a Kwakwaka'wakw master bentwood box-maker and carver. Marlo was awarded two YVR Emerging Artist Scholarships (2019 and 2020), providing an opportunity to exhibit her work at the Vancouver International Airport and the Museum of Vancouver.

Bill Reid Gallery gratefully acknowledges the support of exhibition partners BMO, Carter Auto Family, City of Vancouver, Province of British Columbia, and the RBC Emerging Artist Program.

The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is a public gallery nestled in the heart of downtown Vancouver. It is named after acclaimed Haida artist Bill Reid (1920–1998), a master goldsmith, carver, sculptor, writer, broadcaster, and spokesman. 

Since opening in May 2008, the Bill Reid Gallery has remained the only public gallery in Canada devoted to contemporary Indigenous art of the Northwest Coast, and is home to the Simon Fraser University Bill Reid Art Collection, as well as special exhibitions of contemporary Indigenous art of the Northwest Coast of North America. Through his art, Bill Reid continues to inspire emerging and established contemporary Indigenous artists. His legacies include infusing the art traditions of the Haida with modern forms of expression, influencing the next generation of artists, and building lasting bridges between First Nations and other peoples. 

The Bill Reid Gallery offers public programs including artist talks and artist-led workshops which provide a greater awareness and appreciation of Indigenous values and cultures. Find public programs at

The Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art is an initiative of the Bill Reid Foundation. Established in 1999 as a non-profit charitable organization, the Foundation's mission is to preserve the art and perpetuate the legacies of Bill Reid.


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