Hjalmer Wenstob

Hjalmer was raised on an island in Barkley Sound, in Huu-ay-aht First Nation’s territory, off the west coast of Vancouver Island. It was there that his understanding and desire of pursing both his traditional Nuu-chah-nulth and contemporary art practices began. Hjalmer Wenstob is an interdisciplinary artist who specializes in sculpture and carving. He is Nuu-Chah-Nulth from the Tla-O-Qui-Aht First Nations on his father's side, and Norwegian and English on his mum’s.

Hjalmer speaks of three dialects of his work; contemporary, traditional, and community-based. Through his contemporary dialect, Hjalmer completed both an undergraduate and master's degree at the University of Victoria, exploring the relationships between cultures and art, and the balance between traditional and contemporary. His work, at times is highly political, and uses humour and irony to pose difficult questions of respect, reconciliation and environmental issues. Recently, Hjalmer and his family opened Cedar House Gallery in Ucluelet, B.C. where Hjalmer is exploring ways of weaving his contemporary/political work with more traditional materials and styles.

Hjalmer also creates cultural objects, and artworks for his community for dances and celebrations, which is how he initially got into carving. His final dialect of work involves community projects, where he brings together youth and community members to co-create carvings and artworks. In 2017, one of these projects involved the creation of four temporary Longhouses that were erected for one week in front of the BC Legislature buildings in Victoria, BC, on an old Lekwungen village site, in collaboration with the BC legislature, the City of Victoria, Songhees First Nation and Esquimalt First Nation.