Artist. Also known as Ozistalis. Chief Henry Speck was born in 1908 on Turnour Island. He attended the Alert Bay Residential School for only two years. At age fourteen, he was initiated as a Hamatsa dancer in the Tlowitsis tribe—and therefore an acknowledged ceremonial songwriter and composer of Kwagiutl dances—during his uncle Chief Bob Harris’ potlatch. Speck’s father hosted a potlatch to assume the position of chief of the Tlowitsis in 1925, at which his son danced. When the elder Speck passed away, Henry Speck was made chief and given the name Ozistalis, which means “the greatest.” A largely self-taught artist, Speck worked in both watercolour and woodcarving. Speck’s first solo exhibition was held in 1964 at the New Design Gallery and was comprised of forty watercolours. The sixteen page catalogue, Kwakiutl Art, was one of the earliest attempts to thoroughly analyze and promote Kwakiutl Art in print for commercial purposes. The following year, Speck became artistic director of Chief James Sewid’s Big House project in Alert Bay. Speck also exhibited at the Simon Fraser University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology. His work is included in the collections of the British Columbia Provincial Museum, the National Museum of Man, the Glenbow Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, and the Campbell River Museum. Speck passed away in 1971.
Discrete project sites documenting the work of specific artists and collectives in detail.
Essays and conversation providing a context for exploring the Project Sites and Archives.
Video interviews conducted between December 2008 and May 2009 reflecting on Vancouver’s art scene in the sixties.