The Rivers that Connect Us
These monumental paddles by kʼwyʼiʼyʼe Spring Salmon Studio welcome people to the Museum of Surrey.
Artists: kʼwyʼiʼyʼe Spring Salmon Studio (Drew Atkins, Phyllis Atkins, and Aaron Jordan)
Location: Museum of Surrey (17710 56A Avenue)
Year Installed: 2021
About The Rivers that Connect Us
This illuminated sculpture features four monumental paddles and a spindle-whorl base. The paddles stand five metres tall and encircle a 3.5 metre round medallion base with a design inspired by the traditional form of a Coast Salish spindle whorl.
The designs in the medallion represent the seven traditional teachings of the Coast Salish peoples: health, happiness, generations, humility, forgiveness, understanding, and teaching.
The upright paddles, pointing in four directions, are placed in a traditional welcoming gesture, honouring the diversity and inclusiveness of newcomers to Surrey and the traditional lands of the Coast Salish peoples.
While referencing the deep history of the land and traditional Coast Salish design work, the sculpture also incorporates cutting-edge technology with an aluminum and polycarbonate surface and programmable lighting within. Located on Highway 10, the artwork will act as a beacon at night, guiding motorists and pedestrians as they navigate this busy street. In the daylight, it marks Surrey’s living history and memory as the artwork is intentionally placed between Museum of Surrey and Surrey Archives.
About the Artists
Drew Atkins (Nəq̓ɑɬc̓i) is a member of the Kwantlen First Nation community by marriage to his wife and fellow artist, Phyllis Atkins (q̓ʷɑt̓ic̓ɑ’s). He works in many mediums including painting, drawing, carving, and sculpture. He was trained in the Coast Salish carving tradition while apprenticing with his dear friend and mentor Xwa-lack-tun (Rick Harry). Atkins owns and operates K’wy’iye’ Spring Salmon Studio and Gallery in unceded Fort Langley, BC with Phyllis Atkins.
Phyllis (Qwoy’tic’a) Atkins is an artist of the Kwantlen First Nation whose name means “I wear the clouds like a blanket” or “Shrouded in clouds.” Her name comes from the Nɬeʔkepmx language and it was given to her by her maternal grandfather Hereditary Chief Anthony Joe of the Shakan Band (Thompson River People). Phyllis is also part Sto:lo (People of the river). Phyllis has taken oil painting lessons from Barbara Boldt and hand-carved silver jewelry lessons by Master Carver Derek Wilson. She is a renowned painter and jeweler at their home on Kwantlen First Nation in Fort Langley.
Aaron Jordan grew up surrounded by artists and craftsmen of all mediums. Working for a few years in art galleries and museums led Aaron to attend Langara College to study fine arts. He went on to discover the world of film and was swept up by the creativity and diversity of the industry while working as a sculptor and carpenter building sets and props.