David Gladstone

Oil on Canvas, 24 x 30, 1984
David Gladstone
Artist, Historian, Singer, Dancer, Performer

David Gladstone
  • From Bella Bella, British Columbia.
  • Earned the right to wear the traditional costumes he has collected and to perform the songs and dances of his people.

David Gladstone is both an artist and a Heiltsuk cultural expert from Waglisla. He works in many media, including metal, silkscreen, wood and serigraph, but he is most well-known for the traditional styles and images he uses in the creation of cultural objects. Gladstone designed many of the spiritual artifacts in use at Bella Bella, particularly the button blankets, which are worn for some ceremonies and dances. According to Doreen Jensen in Robes of Power, “Our people say, when we wear our blankets, we show our face. We show who we are and where we come from. When we dance, we share part of our history with our people. It’s more than just what you see when you look at a blanket. To us, it has so much meaning. The blankets become very personal.” The artwork that goes into a button blanket requires a great deal of knowledge of community and family history on the part of the designer. Indeed, the blankets become a part of the family inheritance, like names. Gladstone serves as a cultural researcher, teacher and advisor for the Heiltsuk community, preserving the communal memories of traditions, performances and artistry. Many up-and-coming carvers and metalworkers in the Waglisla artistic community count Gladstone as a mentor.

For more information about First Nations in B.C., resources available at UBC, or information about these individuals, visit the Resources section.