Derek Wilson


November 29, 1950 (d. 2011)

Beetail, BC

Derek Wilson was from the Killerwhale clan. He was a Hereditary Chief, and largely a self-taught artist. He worked in wood, silver, gold, copper, ivory, gemstones, and silkscreen. Derek first began to carve at age eleven with his uncle, Haisla carver Henry Robertson. Beginning in the late 1950s, Derek and his brother, Barry Wilson, would finish off the pieces that Henry would discard. Encouraged by David Gladstone and Russell Smith, Derek started to work with gold and silver. His designs were influenced by his Tsimshian and Haisla background. Derek had work displayed at the Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver, BC. In 1981, the Queen of England received a gold ring from Derek as a representative gift from the visiting First Nations. From 2004 to 2006, Derek helped Henry Robertson oversee the recreation of the nineteenth-century G’psgolox pole that was made for the country of Sweden as part of a repatriation deal between Sweden and Canada. He was also featured in the NFB documentary Totem: The Return of the G’psgolox Pole. In 2008, Derek helped teach and advise the students of Vancouver’s Northwest Coast Jewellery Arts Program. This program was started in 2007 by Kwakwaka’wakw/ Haida artist Dan Wallace. Derek was among the most versatile and creative jewellers working in the market. His and Barry's use of uncommon imagery, inlay work, overlay, and atypical formats set them apart. Derek Wilson passed away in 2011.