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Norman Tait
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Tait

Series documents Nisga’a artist Norman Tait and his crew of carvers during a period in which they were prolific in their creation of totem poles.

Jensen first met Tait in the early 1970s when she would photographic artists’ works for Bud Mintz, Vancouver gallery owner. In 1985 she had the idea to produce a book documenting the carving of a totem pole from start to finish. She approached Tait, who initially refused but called Jensen back just a few days later to take her up on the offer, after being commissioned to create a pole for the Native Education Centre in Vancouver.

Jensen photographed Tait and his crew, which consisted of his brother Robert (Chip), his cousin Harry Martin (Hammy), his nephew Wayne Young and his eldest son Isaac (Ikey). She also made notes and audio recordings of Tait’s lessons to his crew, most of whom had never worked on such a large project. The photographs and tapes were used in the creation of the book Where the People Gather: Carving a Totem Pole. The project also led to the publication of a children’s version, Carving a Totem Pole and a paperback version titled Totem Pole Carving. The books were published in the early 1990s.

Jensen documented Tait’s next two major commissions: two poles for Capilano Mall in 1986, and a pole for Stanley Park in 1987.

In 1987 Tait adopted Jensen into the Nisga’a Eagle Clan and began to teach her about the responsibilities that came with the honour. The lessons were put into practice in 2001 when Tait asked Vickie to guard the body of a family member that had died.

The series includes photographic records of the creation of the four poles; audio recordings of lessons and interviews with Tait; transcripts of the audio tapes; and notes. The series consists of five sub-series:

A. Native Education Centre (NEC) pole photographs
B. Capilano Mall and Stanley Park poles photographs
C. Misc. photographs
D. Tait family and crew artists’ photographs
E. Audio tapes and transcripts.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. Also shown is a scale model of proposed Native Education Centre to be built at 285 E. 5th in Vancouver. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. Also shown is a scale model of proposed Native Education Centre to be built at 285 E. 5th in Vancouver. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. Also shown is a scale model of proposed Native Education Centre to be built at 285 E. 5th in Vancouver. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. Also shown is a scale model of proposed Native Education Centre to be built at 285 E. 5th in Vancouver. Norman signs contract in triplicate. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. Also shown is a scale model of proposed Native Education Centre to be built at 285 E. 5th in Vancouver. Norman signs contract in triplicate. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. Norman shows drawings of proposed pole, both front and side view. Also shown is a scale model of proposed Native Education Centre to be built at 285 E. 5th in Vancouver. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. Norman shows drawings of proposed pole, both front and side view. Also shown is a scale model of proposed Native Education Centre to be built at 285 E. 5th in Vancouver. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. Also shown is a scale model of proposed Native Education Centre to be built at 285 E. 5th in Vancouver. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. Also shown is a scale model of proposed Native Education Centre to be built at 285 E. 5th in Vancouver. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. After the contract was signed, Howard had Norman to pick out a drum to “seal the deal”. Photo shows Norman holding a drum. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. After the contract was signed, Howard had Norman to pick out a drum to “seal the deal”. Photo shows Norman holding a drum. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait at the Native Education offices

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait at the old Native Education Offices (approx. Broadway & Cambie) in Vancouver. After the contract was signed, Howard had Norman to pick out a drum to “seal the deal”. Photo shows Norman holding a drum. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait's first view of log at the L&K Log-sorting yard in Gibson’s Landing, B.C.

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait’s first view of log at the L&K Log-sorting yard in Gibson’s Landing, B.C. Note: extra thick section is where doorway is to be cut. These images correspond to info in text from WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING pp. 18-22. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Norman Tait's first view of log at the L&K Log-sorting yard in Gibson’s Landing, B.C.

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of Norman Tait’s first view of log at the L&K Log-sorting yard in Gibson’s Landing, B.C. Note: extra thick section is where doorway is to be cut. These images correspond to info in text from WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING pp. 18-22. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book.

Crew working on log at the Turnbull & Gail construction yard in Richmond (contractors for building the new Native Education Centre)

Item is a b&w negative of a photograph of crew working on log at the Turnbull & Gail construction yard in Richmond (contractors for building the new Native Education Centre). Corresponds to info in text from WHERE THE PEOPLE GATHER or paperback TOTEM POLE CARVING pp. 27-28. Photo shot for Douglas & McIntyre book
Note: 3 carvers bent over the log are Robert (Chip) Tait on top, Isaac Tait in distance and Wayne Young foreground. Isaac Tait sharpening tools.

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