Most days, you will find Leonard Scow bent over a piece of red cedar, with carving blade in hand, using his delicate touch to bring to life all the creatures of the forest and sea, both real and mythical. His work is dominated by bright spotlights, so every fine movement of his blade to wood is clearly visible. He listens to music as he works, but if you catch his attention, you will be greeted with a smile, usually followed with a funny statement and joyous laugh. He is a peaceful, happy, and spiritual man.
Leonard Scow, of the Kwicksutaineuk/Ah/Kwaw/Ah/Mish Nation, was born in Alert Bay, British Columbia in May 1962. He is the son of Rupert and Sarah Scow. Sarah’s grandfather was Mungo Martin. Rupert was the son of Chief Scow of Gilford Island. His family crests include the bear, thunderbird, zoonogwa, and sisuitl. Together, Rupert and Sarah had 7 boys, and Leonard was in the middle.
When Len was 6, the family moved far from their island hometown and settled in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, in McBride, BC. It did not take Len very long to make new friends, and he spent very moment he had on fishing, hiking and exploring the mountains around the town, accompanied by his pack of wolf dogs. It was there that Len developed his lifelong passion for the wilderness.
As a teenager, Len and his family moved back to the west coast. He had a variety of jobs over the years. In his 20’s, after working on building log homes for a few years he moved back to Alert Bay. He began a carving course, under the tutelage of Wayne Alfred, Shawn Carps, Don Swanvick, and Vince Shaughnessy. Len was a quick learner, and was soon carving masks, totem poles, and a canoe. After three years of learning the intricate skills of carving, Leonard moved to Vancouver and was soon selling his work to art galleries throughout the Lower Mainland. He is happy now to be again living close to the wildness in the Lake Cowichan area of Vancouver Island.
The aspect that brings Len’s work to a higher level is his meticulous attention to detail, not cutting any corners and putting all his love and passion into each of his creations. His work shows bright colors and ovoid shapes of the Kwaguth traditions. His preferred medium is red cedar, and in keeping with the way of his ancestors he dresses his masks in cedar bark and feathers.