Artist Aki Yamamoto and her son Kai during the opening of A Forest Falls at the Station House Gallery May 3. The two stand beside a carving Yamamoto created using a piece of pine beetle affected wood. Her show runs at the gallery throughout the month of May.

Artist Aki Yamamoto and her son Kai during the opening of A Forest Falls at the Station House Gallery May 3. The two stand beside a carving Yamamoto created using a piece of pine beetle affected wood. Her show runs at the gallery throughout the month of May.

Artist reflects on the falling forest

The upstairs exhibit space at the Station House Gallery is hosting a unique and first solo art show of pieces created by Aki Yamamoto.

The upstairs exhibit space at the Station House Gallery is hosting a unique and first solo art show of pieces created by Aki Yamamoto during May.

A resident of the bush on the edge of Chilcotin country, the Japanese-born artist says her show, A Forest Falls, is a reflection on the fact that the area’s forests are in decline.

“Trees have been dying all around us and falling over, and there has been lots of logging. When they log, they leave small stands and the trees just fall over. We’ve been up for 15 years and this show is a slice of that experience.”

Pointing to two carved pieces where fetal-positioned figures are enveloped inside, surrounded by the dark markings made by pine beetle near the bark, Yamamoto explains when her husband, Scott, was collecting firewood last fall, and cut the pine-beetle kill trees into fire logs, they revealed interesting markings.

“He cut some slabs and we knew we wanted to make something. The more I looked at them I could see the figures in the pattern. I sanded them and carved them.”

Yamamoto also produces woodblock oil monoprints, mostly carved out of beetle wood.

The show features some of her woodblocks, and the prints she makes with them using oil paint.

One woodblock depicts a figure riding on a dragonfly.

When asked what the piece represents, Yamamoto smiles, pushes her glasses up from her nose, and says, “me,” with a shrug.

“It’s how I feel sometimes,” she adds.

A tiny collection of whimsical pieces, about six by four inches in size each, incorporate real mosquitoes.

There were a lot of mosquitoes last summer, she explains. “All I had to do was sit outside with a book and they’d land on the book and I’d shut the book.”

Next to the “bug art” are some ink and water-colour sketches — one contains a friendly looking moose.

It’s nice to see the world through someone else’s eyes.

Yamamoto emigrated with her family to Vancouver from Japan when she was one year old.  She grew up in the suburbs of B.C. and attended the University of British Columbia.  After graduation she taught English in Japan, pretty normal stuff for a young Canadian, she says.

She also travelled through Southeast Asia, hiking in New Zealand, and woofing on sheep farms in Australia. Making good friends.

Upon her return to Canada, after seeing how others lived in a simpler way, she decided to break from tradition and went back to school where she attended Emily Carr and studied printmaking, photography and sculpture.

Nagging in the back of her mind was living a simpler way, so in 1997 she sold everything she owned and together with her partner moved up to the Chilcotin, where she learned first hand the ways of survival.

These days she and her husband make tools and knives, under their business Cariboo Blades Tools and Knives, that they sell all over the world.

“We make hunting knives and carving tools. It’s all custom work. We just sent a set of carving tools to a customer in Spain.

“Most of our customers are in the U.S., but we have some in Canada, Australia and Greece,” she says, adding she still finds it pretty amazing that’s how they earn a livelihood.

The couple and their nine-year-old son Kai rely totally on solar. Naturally the business slows in the winter so it’s a good time to create art.

“I spent the winter thinking about this show. By last fall I knew the gallery had accepted my proposal so I had some time to prepare,” she says.

Just Posted

Shearwater is located in the Great Bear Rainforest on the West Coast of B.C. (Cariboo Chilcotin Coast Tourism Association photo)
Heiltsuk Nation buys historic Shearwater Resort and Marina

Chief Marilyn Slett said Heiltsuk Nation has always valued its relationship with the company

The first Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine dose in Canada is prepared at The Michener Institute in Toronto on Monday, Dec. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
One death, 39 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

There are 484 active cases of the virus in the region currently

Const. Dan Cohen is a member of the Williams Lake RCMP detachment. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Our Hometown: Serving the community

“Williams Lake is a good community to be involved with,” says RCMP Const. Dan Cohen

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Police investigate a fatal 2011 shooting in a strip mall across from Central City Shopping Centre, which was deemed a gang hit. The Mayor’s Gang Task Force zeroed in on ways to reduce gang involvement and activity. (File photo)
COVID-19 could be a cause in public nature of B.C. gang violence: expert

Martin Bouchard says the pandemic has changed people’s routines and they aren’t getting out of their homes often, which could play a role in the brazen nature of shootings

Tinder, an online dating application that allows users to anonymously swipe to like or dislike other’s profiles. (Black Press Media files)
B.C. man granted paternity test to see if Tinder match-up led to a ‘beautiful baby’

The plaintiff is seeking contact with the married woman’s infant who he believes is his child

Nurse Tami Arnold prepares to administer a COVID-19 vaccine. (Kareem Elgazzar/AP)
B.C. adults 30+ now eligible to get vaccinated against COVID-19

Health officials made the announcement Wednesday afternoon

Ancient Forest Alliance campaigner Andrea Inness walks beside an enormous western red cedar stump in a BCTS-issued cutblock in the Nahmint Valley. (PHOTO COURTESY TJ WATT)
Watchdog: logging practices put Vancouver Island old growth, biodiversity at risk

Forest Practices Board has issues with BC Timber Sales practices in Nahmint Valley near Port Alberni

Erik Christian Oun, who worked for the Coquitlam school district, has had his teaching licence suspended for half a year. (Pixabay)
B.C. teacher suspended after calling students ‘cutie’ and ‘sweetheart’ in online messages

Erik Oun’s licence has been suspended for half a year, a decision made by the B.C. Commissioner for Teacher Regulation

Most Read