Honoring the Musqueam Nation

UBC Faculty of Law at Allard Hall - Honoring the Musqueam Nation

Honoring the Musqueam Nation

Brent Sparrow

On February 16, a 41-foot house post carved by Musqueam artist Brent Sparrow will be installed outside Allard Hall.

Just a few minutes from UBC campus, on the Musqueam reserve, is Brent Sparrow's home and studio - a quiet and unassuming place from which Mr. Sparrow has created some stunning pieces of work honouring the city's rich Coast Salish history. This includes his most recent project, the house post for the UBC Faculty of Law's new building, Allard Hall. The post is a replica of a post depicting the Musqueam warrior Capilano (qyplnx), which was first installed in the late 1800's at the Musqueam village located on present-day Point Grey.

Inspired by his mother, the iconic Coast Salish artist Susan Point, Mr. Sparrow has only been creating aboriginal art for five and a half years but has already established an impressive portfolio of projects. Some of these projects include a stainless steel and glass piece called "Bright Futures", which was commissioned by the Vancouver 2010 Venues Aboriginal Art Program and has been permanently installed in front of the Killarney Community Centre. He also designed the Musqueam post for the opening ceremony of the Vancouver 2010 Olympics.

Around UBC campus, you can find other pieces created by both Mr. Sparrow and Ms. Point including the Coast Salish house posts for the Museum of Anthropology and a carving of three eagles for the Irving K. Barber Learning Centre.

"I worked with my mom for almost five years before I started taking projects on my own," explained Mr. Sparrow. "She takes a lot of pride in her work and taught me to do it right. She's a perfectionist."

The carving process for Allard Hall's house post began late last year. It started with finding a cedar tree that would fit the appropriate dimensions of the proposed design - almost 41 feet long. After receiving a call from a friend who had found a reddar log on the Queen Charlotte Islands, Mr. Sparrow began work on the chain sawing. "Cutting alone can take weeks and weeks. After this we did a scale drawing and did the measurements."

Driving down the quiet residential street of Mr. Sparrow's home and studio, it's hard to miss the large white tarp under which the house post rests on the lawn just outside his home. Mr. Sparrow spends up to eight to ten hours a day, five days a week , meticulously carving the detailed post. Family and friends who live close by - including his two sisters who are also both artists (one of whom lives across the street) - regularly come over to help. His brother helped with the chain sawing and his four children (aged 16, 11, 10 and 2) are eager to lend a hand.

"When I'm here, they (family) are here all the time. My 10-year old loves to help."

A welder by trade, Mr. Sparrow has taken an extended leave from his full-time job to work on the house post project for UBC Law, which is scheduled for installation on February 16, 2012. The house post, which will be installed on the north end of Allard Hall overlooking Howe Sound and the Burrard Inlet, is intended to reflect on the Musqueam's historic relationship to the UBC lands while welcoming visitors to the building.

An official ceremony to honour the house post will be held at a soon to be scheduled date. Check back for more details.