Reconnecting to Indigenous Roots in Portugal through Art

Coast Salish artist Luke Marston and Canada’s Ambassador to Portugal Jeffrey Marder with a replica of Marston’s piece, Shore to Shore

For Luke Marston, a Coast Salish artist, the legacy of his ancestors is the inspiration behind his work. The renowned First Nations artist spent his childhood learning his craft, supported by an artistic family.

Today, his work has been exhibited around the world from Japan to the United States, and most recently in Portugal, a country that Marston is personally connected to.

Luke Marston is the great-great-grandson of Joe Silvey also known as “Portuguese Joe” and his Coast Salish wife Kwatleemaat. Portugese Joe was born and raised in the Azores, and was a 19th century pioneer of Vancouver’s Gastown.

Canadian Connection

During a weeklong visit to Portugal, the artist met with both public and private institutions, including students from the School of Arts and Design of Caldas da Rainha, to promote indigenous art.

Luke Marston shared the story of his great-great-father Portuguese Joe and the links between the Portuguese and Salish First Nation.

“My mother and aunt, her old sister, have always told me stories of the pioneer great-great-grandfather from Pico, this great island of the Azores.”  - Luke Marston, Coast Salish Artist

Joe Silvey, “Portuguese Joe”, and his Coast Salish wife Kwatleemaat, ancestors of Coast Salish artist Luke Marston.

To highlight the unique relationship between the Portuguese and Salish First Nation cultures, Marston is planning to donate a sculpture to the city of Lisbon to commemorate Canada’s 150th anniversary in Portugal.

Since November 2016, the Canadian Embassy in Lisbon has been working with Luke Marston to realize this project. Through the artist’s work, the embassy hopes to raise awareness about the importance of Canada-Portugal bilateral relations and of the heritage of indigenous peoples.

The sculpture will represent a cod lure. It will be cast in bronze and rest on a base covered by an original design in Portuguese cobble stone. It is inspired by Marston’s work Shore to Shore, a 14-foot bronze sculpture, which was unveiled in Vancouver’s Stanley Park in 2015. For reference:

Coast Salish artist Luke Marston and Canadian Embassy staff meeting with the director of the Museu Nacional de Etnologia, Paulo Ferreira da Costa.

The Embassy is thrilled to partner with Canadian companies operating in Portugal who have valued the legacy of indigenous peoples by sponsoring the project. Luke Marston is a recognized artist who has received support from several funding organizations for his projects.

The director of Portugal’s National Museum of Ethnology, Paulo Costa has invited Luke Marston to exhibit his work in the museum in 2018.

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