Thomas Cannell, Thunder Mountain, 2009, serigraph. Gift of the Salish Weave Collection of George and Christiane Smyth, 2021. Photo: Rachel Topham Photography.

Thomas Cannell

The contrast of negative space with highly nuanced blended shades of colour in Thomas Cannell’s serigraph Thunder Mountain points self-consciously to the process of printing itself, a process that renowned artist Susan Point, Cannell’s mother, has extensively explored. The design of this print evokes the spirit of the mountain with human faces representing the eyes of the mountain face with a Thunderbird rising from the top of the “head” of the mountain. The imagery communicates a place of deeply personal significance for the Coast Salish people. In Salish oral history, the Thunderbird lives high in the mountains and when he claps his wings it makes thunder and lightning and brings the rain that sustains their way of life. Cannell created Thunder Mountain after a trip to the mountains where the weather changed quickly from sun and blue sky to lightning, hail and wind and went back to blue sky just as quickly. The Thunderbird, a sign of good luck, had soared over them, and the mountain had shown its strength.

Thomas A. Cannell is a Coast Salish artist born on xwməθkwəy̓əmtraditional territory. He is the son of renowned Musqueam Coast Salish artist Susan Point and the brother of artist Kelly Cannell. He has spent years training and honing his skills as both a carver and a visual artist. As an apprentice carver he worked on many large-scale public art works, the first being Flight, a 17’ spindle whorl commissioned for the Vancouver International Airport. In 2014 Thomas was awarded a British Columbia Achievement Award for First Nations Art.