Royal Visit 2016: Yukon artist to share his art with 2 generations of royals
First Nations carver Keith Wolfe Smarch had exactly 43 seconds to present Prince Charles with a special gift he carved to commemorate Prince of Wales’ 2001 visit to Yukon.
Despite a very short encounter, Wolfe Smarch says meeting His Royal Highness was the highlight of his 35-year career as an artist. Apparently, Prince Charles liked the carving so much, it’s now part of the Buckingham collection.
On Wednesday, Wolfe Smarch will get to meet another generation of royals as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate, tour his community of Carcross, a town of fewer than 300 people.
While in Carcross, Prince William and Kate will receive a traditional welcome from the Carcross/Tagish First Nation and have a chance to say hello to the local community.
Wolfe Smarch will present Prince William with a special carving of a small Totem pole featuring a killer whale to represent the biggest Aboriginal clan in Carcross, to which Wolfe Smarch himself belongs.
He says he only had about two-and-a-half weeks to create the piece.
In contrast, Wolfe Smarch says he had nearly an entire year to carve the gift for Prince Charles.
He remembers the moment he presented Prince Charles with his carving, which was a First Nations mask, very vividly.
“I was a little bit nervous,” he said. “I actually hired a storyteller to stand with me, and she rehearsed it and got [the whole speech] down to 43 seconds.”
Wolfe Smarch says Prince Charles showed a lot of interest in his work and shook the hand of his son, who is now Wolfe Smarch’s apprentice.
READ MORE: Full coverage of the royal visit
As with everything the royals touch, Wolfe Smarch says getting an appreciative nod from Prince Charles brought him more exposure.
“As artists, we struggle,” Wolfe Smarch said. “But to be commissioned by the Yukon territorial government to create this mask, I felt like I finally achieved a goal. Many artists know that when you get something big like this, all your hard work pays off.”
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