tofino artist michelle foley

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Tofino Artist: Michelle Foley


Michelle was born in Quebec in 1952. She travelled for several years searching and looking for an art form through which she could express herself. Eventually she found that wood carving was that art and Tofino would be the ideal place to build her home.

She rapidly fell in love with the west coast. Not long after arriving Michelle met Henry Nola, His simplicity of life and wonderful carving completely fascinated her. Carving with Henry at his workshop on Chesterman Beach gave Michelle a chance to study many west coast native books. Under Henry’s direction, Michelle soon attempted to carve her first mask. It started as a simple sun mask, yet ultimately became the challenge of her entire summer. Michelle slowly became familiar with the proper technique and learned how to capture the beauty and simplicity of it all.

Michelle was very pleased with the completion of her first mask. The success made her feel as if she had received permission from the Gods. Right away she started another one, and another one.

Her work with Henry continued for more than ten years. This is about when she discovered that her great grand-mother was Cree.

Henry began to carve more and more for Roy Vickers and Michelle opened her own little business, The Doorway, where she carved red cedar doors.

Between the beach and The Doorway, Michelle as lived and carved in Tofino for over 20 years. West Coast design, ceremonial masks and her doors have given her notoriety as an established artist of the area. Her work is notable not only for its carved techniques and design but also for her application of colours.

Tofino Time Magazine October 2004

Tofino Time Magazine March 2008

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Tofino artist Michelle Foley came to Tofino from Quebec. She learned to carve under the guidance of Henry Nolla on Chesteman Beach.

tofino time march 2008