Billy Gauthier

Billy Gauthier was born in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL but moved around eastern Canada during his childhood before settling in North West River, Labrador. He was first introduced to carving in his adolescence by his family [1] and continued to experiment with the medium learning by observing sculptors and testing techniques. His solo exhibition at Spirit Wrestler, Vancouver, BC titled Billy Gauthier: Visions From Labrador (2010) sold out in 18 minutes and launched him into the spotlight. The following year he won the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council's 2011 "Emerging Artist of the Year" award [2].

What sets Gauthier’s work apart is his attention to detail. The fine lines and delicate shapes in his work are exceptional and involve a lot of time and skill. Gauthier works with a variety of materials, such as stone, bone, antler, ivory, sinew and even baleen (whalebone), and is aware of how each type of material is shaped by carving. His work is grounded in themes of traditional Inuit practices, spirituality and contemporary issues facing Inuit communities. His concern for the environment and wildlife is evident in pieces such as his sculpture Sedna's Tears (n.d.). This sculpture portrays the sea goddess crying with animals tumbling from her blowing hair and outstretched hands. 

Gauthier also believes in the importance of his platform as an artist for navigating important issues and enacting social change. In October 2016, he gained attention as being part of a group of three community members to go on a hunger strike to protest the flooding of the reservoir at Muskrat Falls, which, due to a lack of clearing, posed a risk of leaking high levels of methylmercury into a major water source. He maintained the strike for 13 days until, finally, on October 26, an agreement was made that he and his fellow protesters approved of [3].



Citations/Footnotes

1. Christine Lalonde, “Interview: Billy Gauthier,” Inuit Art Quarterly 28, no. 1 (2015): 33 
2. Heather Igloliorte, “Greater Detail: The Sculptural Work of Billy Gauthier,” Fuse Magazine 35, no. 2 (Spring 2012): 1. 
3. Daniel MacEacham, “Tears, Relief for Hunger Strikers as Muskrat Falls Agreement Ends Fast,” CBC News Newfoundland and Labrador, October 26, 2016. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/newfoundland-labrador/billy-gauthier-hunger-strikers-muskrat-falls-1.3821743