George Clutesi exhibition

Museum Exhibit

GEORGE CLUTESI: ḥašaḥʔap / ʔaapḥii  /  ʕac̓ik  /  ḥaaʔaksuqƛ  /  ʔiiḥmisʔap

A stunning and powerful new exhibit creatively exploring the legacy of George Clutesi through his art, scholarly work and human rights activism.

George Clutesi (1905-1988) was a c̓išaaʔatḥ (Tseshaht) artist, scholar/educator, activist and actor. He was a firm believer in his traditional ways and lived his life with a core belief of passing on his knowledge to the next generation. The words that follow his name in the exhibition title describe him in the c̓išaaʔatḥ language: ḥašaḥʔap (keep, protective), ʔaapḥii (generous), ʕac̓ik (talented), ḥaaʔaksuqƛ (strong willed), ʔiiḥmisʔap (treasure).

The exhibition features over 51 original and reproduction works by George Clutesi in the form of oil paintings, watercolours, linocut prints, and drawings. Clutesi’s life and legacy is explored three ways in the exhibition:

  • Artworks created by Clutesi between the early 1940s and the late 1970s.
  • New art by nuučaan̓ułʔatḥ (Nuu-chah-nulth) artists, Tlehpik Hjalmer Wenstob (ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ), Timmy Masso (ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ), Marika Echachis Swan (ƛaʔuukʷiʔatḥ) Petrina Dezall (muwacʔatḥ/hisʷkʷiiʔatḥ). These artists use Clutesi’s legacy as inspiration for the continuance and growth of nuučaan̓ułʔatḥ art practices that include gathering materials from nature, painting, printing, video, song, and carving. nuučaan̓ułʔatḥ scholars sii-yaa-ilth-supt Dawn Smith (ʔiiḥatisʔatḥ) and hiininaasim Dr. Tommy Happynook (huuiiʕahʔ ḥaḥ) consider Clutesi’s scholarship and writing through their creation of drums and women’s regalia as nuučaan̓ułʔatḥ knowledge.
  • A documentary film that explores Clutesi’s legacy as a person, caregiver, and human rights advocate through the childhood memories of 7 Alberni Indian Residential School Survivors, Wally Samuel (ʕaahuušʔath), Deborah Cook (Nisga’a), Fran Tait (Ts’msyen), Kathy Lafortune (p’a:chi:da?aht), Arthur Bolton (Ts’msyen), Mark Atleo (ʕaahuušʔath), and Gina Laing (ḥuučuqƛisʔatḥ).

The exhibition is punctuated with archival documents and photographs that illustrate the significant contributions Clutesi made to the lives of Indigenous peoples, and to Canada during his lifetime. 

This creative exploration of George Clutesi’s life through his art and scholarly work was made possible with the generous permission of members of the family of George Clutesi and was developed in collaboration with nuučaan̓ułʔatḥ cultural and language advisors. Institutional partners for the exhibition are the Alberni Valley Museum, The Bateman Foundation, the University of Victoria, and the Royal BC Museum. The collective of exhibition partners gratefully acknowledges funding support received from Heritage BC Legacy Fund, the Canadian Heritage Museums Assistance Program, and the Smyth Chair in Arts and Engagement at the University of Victoria.

The exhibit opened at the Alberni Valley Museum on March 18th and runs through to September 2, 2023. The Museum is located in Echo Centre at 4255 Wallace Street Port Alberni, and is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and to 8pm on Thursdays.


Exhibition Contacts:

Cultural Coordinator, Ann Robinson, c̓išaaʔatḥ, Phone: 250-731-7641

Lead Guest Curator, Dr. Andrea Walsh, Smyth Chair in Arts and Engagement, University of Victoria. Email:

Co-Curator and Project Manager, Dr. Jennifer Robinson, Adjunct Faculty Department of Anthropology, University of Victoria. Email:

Co-Curator, Dr. India Young, Curator of Art and Images, Royal BC Museum. Email:

Alberni Valley Museum: Museum Coordinator/Education Curator, Shelley Harding. Phone:250-720-2523 Email:

General Inquiries – Phone: 250-720-2863 Email: