Sanford Williams is one of my absolute favourite Northwest Coast artists. His traditional upbringing in Yuquot on Vancouver Island’s central west coast also gave him a strong understanding of artistic philanthropy and giving back. When I was the start-up CEO of the Bill Reid Gallery (2009 - 2015) he donated marvelous pieces for auction at the annual Raven’s Feast fund raiser. His generosity of spirit is evident in all his work, which is eminently collectable.
We were so pleased to have had the pleasure and opportunity to work with Sanford Williams on the creation of a totem pole to be proudly displayed at the entrance of the new Canadian Coast Guard Search and Rescue station within the Mowachaht Muchalaht First Nation traditional territory in Tahsis, BC.
Appropriately titled “Guardians of Land & Sea” this signature totem pole and its beautifully carved and painted figures represents protection from the land and air, embodying the Canadian Coasts Guards work and mission. It is a work of art that will be enjoyed by all for generations.
Randy Burgin, Manager - Indigenous Relations & Partnerships
Canadian Coast Guard - Western Region
At the Royal Victoria Yacht Club, we value very highly our relationship with Sanford. Sanford, is our carver-of-choice as we create valued trophies and plaques for our Swiftsure International Yacht Race in recognition of our winners and supporters, and as well, other special events and recognitions. His work is very evident within the club. Sanford’s technical skill as a craftsman and his creative skills as an artist are very evident as he provides us with these much sought-after products.
Former Chair, Swiftsure International Yacht Race
Past Commodore, RVYC
Sanford Williams has a talent like no other. I had given him the freedom to use his creativity to carve a piece for our home. The end result included a gorgeous personalized design that intertwined our work, our environment, and our family. I highly recommend his art to anyone who loves west-coast themed fine art.
Christina Rowsell, Radio Personality
Soft Rock 97.7 Calgary AB
We are beyond delighted to have Sanford's powerful work displayed at our Lodge. Working with Sanford has been a rewarding experience, from talking with him through the design stages of our custom panel, to awe in seeing the final product – Sanford has been a pleasure to know. Sanford's range is impressive, from tiny intricate carvings to multi-dimensional and functional pieces, to storytelling masks – he is a master.
I have always been in awe of the beautiful artwork of Sanford Williams. On an 11-day kayaking tour of Nootka Sound in 1999, my friend and I camped at Yuquot and met Sanford's parents, Ray and Terry Williams. One afternoon they invited us for tea, and Terry, with a big smile on her face, brought out three enormous photo albums, full of pictures of mask carvings created by her son, Sanford. It inspired me to start a project on documenting the carvers on the west coast. In 2017, I presented my first photographic exhibition of the carvers (of Alert Bay) at an International Photographic Exhibition in Pingyao, China. It wasn't till 2018, when I returned to Yuquot after 19 years, that I actually met Sanford face to face. It was a moment I will never forget! I also had the opportunity to purchase a wonderful book, full of stories inspired by his carvings, written by his spouse, Marlana Williams. The work of Sanford, Master Carver, is second to none, and has found its way around the world in galleries and art collections.
Sanford Williams is an exceptionally gifted artist and carver. I have been privileged to buy, commission and create with five of his masks. He is willing to provide important background information, both mythic and personal, on his work. He is very generous in helping others to have the fullest possible relationship to his work. In 1997, my Dance Company commissioned Sanford to carve four masks to be danced by a group of young Gitxsan people who wanted to create a contemporary dance work drawing upon Gitxsan tradition. The resulting dance was a beautiful and original. Sanford had worked with the dancers to help them understand the spirit and intent of each of the masks. It was performed as part of a larger work Stone Soup, where my company toured the province and came to Kispiox and witnessed this wonderful work of art.
Award-winning Canadian Dancer, Choreographer, Dance Teacher
While attempting to pick up the pieces of our business after the fire, we received an amazing and thoughtful gift from Sanford Williams (“The Beaver”). That beautiful carving gave us the strength and inspiration to keep going. The wonderful Beaver carving is now proudly displayed in our new store, where it is now seen and enjoyed by many. The spirit of the beaver, a testament to what hard work can achieve. From this we joined with Sanford to raise money for Hope Community Services. Sanford selflessly donated another beautiful carving to be auctioned off for the cause. The public reaction to the quality and beauty of the piece was overwhelming. The support for the cause was nothing but positive, and the event a big success. Working together with such an amazing and humble talent like Sanford was effortless, a big talent with a big heart. We know Sanford will continue to create great art and go on to achieve even greater things.
Lily & Daniel DeSerranno