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Weavers and Wool

Weavers and Wool

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  • Artist:
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Edition Size:
  • 140 signed and numbered, 14 artist's proofs, 14 remarques, 2 printer's proofs
  • Paper Size:
  • 56 x 46 cm, 22 x 18 inches
  • Publication Year:
  • 2021

"This print, titled Weavers and Wool, depicts two Salish Wool Dogs, and is an homage to the role weavers and dog breeders played in shaping Coast Salish culture. The Salish Wool Dog was the only breed of dog in pre-contact North America that was created and maintained through the practice of animal husbandry.

Through selective breeding, the coast Salish people maintained a large population of small dogs with thick woolly hair that could be sheered and spun into yarn. This meant, unlike their coastal neighbors, the Coast Salish had a steady supply of wool that allowed them to foster a prolific weaving tradition. Female weavers used the wool to create the classic Coast Salish blankets that were worn by Siem (noble ones). The wool was also an important adornment on many ceremonial objects and regalia. Due to the importance of weaving in Salish culture, the spindle whorls became an object of abundance, many of which were carved with classic Coast Salish imagery. Even today, contemporary Salish artist create prints, panels, glass works, stone works, (etc.) all in the form of the spindle whorl.

The practice of breeding wool dogs had been practiced for at least 1700 years according to archeological research. Since the dog's woolly coat was due to a recessive gene, it had required a tremendous amount of work to keep the wool dogs separated from the semi-wild hunting dogs to keep the bloodline pure. So, when Europeans introduced sheep wool to the Salish, the practice of dog breeding was doomed. Since sheep are large, grass-feeding farm-animals — rather than small, meat-eating pets, they were able to generate more wool for far less labour and resources. Therefore, it became too costly to maintain the wool-dogs bloodline, so they began interbreeding with the hunting dogs and European breeds — then quickly vanished.

Even though the Salish wool dog may be lost forever, it’s legacy lives on in Salish culture: wool still adorns most ceremonial objects, Salish blankets are still worn as regalia, and the spindle whorl has become an icon of Coast Salish art. So with this print, I want to honour the Salish wool dog, Salish dog-breeders, and Salish weavers that helped give Coast Salish culture its unique identity."
-Dylan Thomas

This limited edition silk screen print titled "Weavers and Wool" by Dylan Thomas was hand produced by the screen printing process. It is the only limited edition printing of this design. The artist has inspected and signed each copy in the edition. All trial copies of this edition have been destroyed and the printing stencils obliterated.

Born in Victoria, in 1986, Dylan Thomas (Qwul’thilum) is a Coast Salish artist and member of the Lyackson First Nation of Valdes Island, through his grandfather, Clifford Thomas. He also has Songhees heritage through his great grandmother, Mary Moody (of the Albany family), Squamish heritage though his great grandfather, George Moody, and Snuneymuxw heritage through his grandmother, Doris Josephson (of the Prest family).

Although Dylan grew up in the urban setting of Victoria, he was introduced to Coast Salish art at a young age because his family continues to participate in their culture and tradition. Dylan’s early experiences with Salish art ignited a lifelong passion for the art form – and, eventually, led him to seek guidance from established artists. Dylan received training in jewelry techniques from the late Seletze (Delmar Johnnie) and studied under Rande Cook in all mediums of Northwest Coast art. Dylan’s artwork has been published in The Journal of Mathematics and the Arts (Taylor and Francis), and in Contemporary Art on the Northwest Coast by Karen & Ralph Norris.

In 2013, Dylan was featured – alongside Rande Cook, lessLIE, and Francis Dick – in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s Urban Thunderbirds/Ravens in a Matkerial World art show, and in 2016, Dylan held his first solo exhibit, titled Sacred Geometry, at Alcheringa Gallery in Victoria. Along with Rande and Delmar, Dylan’s art has been influenced by the late Art Thompson, Susan Point and Robert Davidson. Dylan has also extensively studied other forms of traditional geometric art, and his work has been deeply influenced by Vajrayana Buddhist mandalas, Celtic knots, Islamic tessellations, and many other ancient geometric art traditions.