The Raven, as told in creation stories, is mischievous and curious. It is a cultural focus of the Indigenous Northwest Coast People.
"Raven was not thought of as a god. He was thought of as the transformer, the trickster. He was the being that changed things—sometimes quite by accident, sometimes on purpose."
—Christian White, Haida artist
The Raven guitar came from the beautiful idea that one dead tree could be given new life in various forms. Live Edge Design and the Robert Bateman Gallery imagined what all the tree's re-creations would look like when presented in the same room, and they made it so with the One Tree Exhibit. This exhibit celebrates the beauty and the stories of the past, present, and future of a very special 100 year old western Bigleaf Maple tree.
For almost a century, the tree stood watch over a Cobble Hill dairy farm in the Cowichan Valley, as generations of the Taggart and then the Wikkerink families worked the fields, milked the cows, and the children played on the swings and the branches that supported them. Recently, it was discovered that the tree was rotting from the core and need to be taken down for safety precautions. This is where the idea was born to divide the tree up between 42 wood artisans to each create a unique masterpiece to be displayed together in the One Tree Exhibit.
I am very pleased to have collaborated with K’omox band First Nations artist Karver Everson on this One Tree Exhibit guitar. Karver meticulously designed a work of native art called “Raven” which I incorporated into the front of the “One Tree” guitar. Cedar was an easy choice for the top as it also has a long history and significance in First Nations culture. The Raven was in-layed with Yellow Cedar into a Red Cedar top and trimmed out with black Ebony.
The Raven guitar is a small Jumbo with 25.4″ scale. It features a local Western Bigleaf Maple tree back and sides, as mentioned, paired with a Red and Yellow Cedar top. The guitar has sitka bracing, dual laminated sides for strength, carbon fibre reinforced quilted Maple neck with dual action truss rod, 113/16″ nut width, 2 ¼″ string spacing, a custom JOI Guitars pinless Ebony bridge, nicely detailed Holly wood binding with black trim, Ebony fretboard, Mother of Pearl fret markers, and 1:21 gear ratio’d Gotoh tuners.
In designing the guitar, I looked at celebrating the history of not only this tree but the greater history of the Maple species and it’s significance in the area in which it grew. I was intrigued by the fact that it came from the Cowichan Valley, which is known to be home to enormous old-growth Bigleaf Maples. This area on southern Vancouver Island is in Hul’qumi’num First Nations territory.
As a Metis myself, I feel a connection with First Nations people, so when I discovered the significance of Maple wood in the daily lives of this and other Coast Salish tribes, (to make paddles, bowls, spoons, hairpins, combs, cedar bark shredders, and fish lures), I knew I had to celebrate this connection in order to truly celebrate it’s past.