Sometimes things happen, even bad things, for a reason.
When internationally-renowned sculptor Audrey Nanimahoo was ordered by the City of Revelstoke to stop carving in her home because her work contravened area zoning, she went into a dark place.
“To have my hands shackled and chained down and I can’t even do any of my art, it takes away all my self-esteem,” Nanimahoo told Black Press. “It got to the point it was so bad I was thinking thoughts of suicide.”
Nanimahoo eventually came to the decision that she would leave her home of 14 years, and make a fresh start in Malakwa. About to celebrate the grand opening of her new gallery, Nanimahoo realizes her past run-in with local politics happened for a reason.
“it’s definitely a new start – I feel like I’m going onto the next level in my art career,” says Nanimahoo. “Even though things happen that you’re not really happy about, when it’s all over and done… you look back and you realize it’s a blessing in disguise. I could never understand that saying, but that was definitely a blessing in disguise.”
Nanimahoo’s elation isn’t just owed to the change of environment, or her new gallery, a 40- by 57-foot space she’s built with husband Bill Sanders – It’s also how she’s been received by fellow artists/artisans in the area.
“I had no idea how many people knew about me and my art, how many people in the community knew that I was actually even here,” said Nanimahoo. “I walked into the community centre with my husband and everybody looked up, stopped what they were doing, jumped up, walked over to me, shook my hand, gave me hugs.
“‘You don’t know us, but we know who you are and we want to welcome you into our community and thank you for coming here…’ That nearly put me into tears. Things like that, they mean a lot, to be able to come into the community and get respect from people and a welcoming attitude.”
Nanimahoo has been sculpting for nine years. In that time her work has won multiple awards and her reputation has grown the world over as a premier Canadian First Nations artist.
A grand-opening/housewarming for Nanimahoo’s Stone Sculpture Gallery runs Oct. 6 to 9, with the gala event on Friday, Oct. 7, from 6 to 10 p.m. The gallery is located at 4154 Malakwa Rd. All are welcome to attend.
For more information, visit www.audreynanimahoo.com.