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Prince Rupert artist's mask goes from carving to coin

Carol Young-Bagshaw poses with her carved mask design entitled
Carol Young-Bagshaw poses with her carved mask design entitled 'The Matriarch Moon Mask' which was recently emblazoned on a new collector's coin from the Royal Canadian Mint.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Carol Young-Bagshaw kept the number from the Royal Canadian Mint when they came calling about a carved piece she had designed called The Matriarch Moon Mask.

"I thought it might have been a prank call," said Young-Bagshaw.

But it was the real deal seeking the heralded artist's carving, which the Mint has used as one of its designs in a new wave of collector's coins. Young-Bagshaw's mask is featured alongside other representative designs inspired by Pope John Paul II, the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 100th anniversary of the Royal Ontario Museum.

The coin has two different versions including a $25.00 silver coin with a $150 purchase price and a pure gold coin.

Young-Bagshaw's mask design is just one of the Haida artist's many creations to be bought and displayed in North America. The Burke Museum in Seattle has one of the artist's pieces on display as well.

Young-Bagshaw has only been carving masks for a relatively short time compared to other projects she's been involved with.

"I started with miniature dolls," explained Young-Bagshaw.

"(Carving masks) has mostly been within the last four years."

She started the first designs for Matriarch Moon Mask about six years ago. The mask is part of a line of creations designed to pay homage to Aboriginal women, who Young-Bagshaw says have found themselves in a tough situation ever since first contact with the Europeans.

"When the Europeans came, a lot of things changed," said the artist.

"The women lost the respect that they had gained over hundreds of years."

Young-Bagshaw said she dedicates the mask to all women everywhere to help them "find their voice".

The Rupertite has made a living selling her pieces, which often sell for a couple thousand dollars each.

"I'm working on three (pieces) right now," she said.

"I usually have two or three going on at once."

The artist is preparing to move to Kelowna for six months, where she'll see four of her grandchildren. She also has a large presence online as she's developed her own website and frequently sells using the auction site eBay.

Her inspiration and mentor for much of her work is the renowned Dempsey Bob, the Northwest B.C. native of Tahltan and Tlingit descent who carves alder, cedar and ,recently, bronze.

The Mint has also released a coin design from M├ętis artist Nathalie Bertin. The previous silver ultra-high relief coin released by the Mint sold out.

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