John Marston, Birds Eye Bowl, 2012, birds eye yellow cedar, operculum, abalone and paint; Coastal Balance, 2015, red cedar, aluminum, brass.Gift of the Salish Weave Collection of George and Christiane Smyth, 2021. Photo: Rachel Topham Photography.

John Marston

Birds Eye Bowl is very literal in its title because it is carved from birds eye yellow cedar, and features a painting of a bird in red on the bowls sides with inset abalone. Whether viewed from above or below, the depiction is that of an eye. The design is based on ancient Coast Salish carvings. Marston imagined the Birds Eye Bowl as “seeing through the eyes of my ancestors who walked this land thousands of years ago.” The creation story, as he says, "speaks of how Syalutsa saw the land for the first time when he first opened his eyes, and our history began.”

Coastal Balance is created from red cedar, aluminum and brass. The design is mirrored and depicts a bald eagle with salmon. The design has all the elements of both traditional and contemporary Coast Salish design with crescents, circles and trigons. The eagle embodies the spirit and strength of Marston’s Coast Salish ancestors. According to the artist, the salmon represents the history and foundation for all modern communities. Coastal Balance acknowledges male and female within its design and coveys that everyone is an individual that has the ability to create positive growth within the community.

John Marston (Qap'u'luq) is from the Stz'uminus First Nation and like his siblings, artists Angela and Luke Marston, he studied with his parents, carvers Jane and David Marston. Together with his brother Luke, John carved in the Thunderbird Park carving program of the Royal British Columbia Museum, which gave him the opportunity to work with many leading carvers of other Indigenous Nations as well as expand his knowledge of legends and Coast Salish traditions. Marston was honoured with the BC Creative Achievement Award for Aboriginal Art in 2009 and in 2013 he opened his first solo exhibition at the Inuit Gallery (Vancouver). Marston has pieces on permanent display at the Museum of Anthropology (Vancouver), Nanaimo Airport, Vancouver International Airport, the Vancouver Convention Centre, CFB Esquimalt, and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). His work has also been featured in numerous publications and is held in many private collections.