An 11-piece gold and silver jewellery collection created by Haida artist Bill Reid is now on display at UBC’s Museum of Anthropology (MOA). The collection was created over a 20-year period (1954-1974) for Sydney Friedman and his late wife, Constance Livingstone-Friedman, who were longstanding UBC professors and early patrons of Reid.
Standouts of the collection include an exquisite gold bracelet featuring a raven with cut-out wings and feathers, a gold brooch and matching earrings, a hinged silver bracelet with an eagle motif, and a silver picture frame fully engraved with a bear motif.
“This collection has outstanding significance, not only as a representation of Bill Reid’s extraordinary early work, and the value of such material for the study of Canadian art history, but also in encompassing one collector-family’s relationship with the artist over a 20-year period,” says MOA curator Bill McLennan.
The new pieces, valued at more than $500,000, expand MOA’s Bill Reid collection – already the world’s largest public one – to 250 pieces, including carvings, drawings, metalwork, and sculptural masterpieces such as The Raven and the First Men, which depicts a version of the Haida people’s origin story and is on permanent display at the museum. Only two pieces in the jewellery collection have previously been exhibited.
Bill Reid (1920-1998) was a pivotal force in introducing to the world the great art traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast. His legacies include infusing these traditions with modern ideas and forms of expression.
The Friedman family’s generous gift includes two other objects that will be exhibited later this year: a print by Reid and a historical Northwest Coast bracelet by an unknown artist.