Artist Roy Henry Vickers Paints a Picture of His Hazelton Home

Award-winning printmaker, painter, carver and author, Roy Henry Vickers combines images of his West Coast native ancestry with his British heritage in his home

Roy Henry Vickers loves his home next to the Skeena River by Hazelton, BC

Though Roy Henry Vickers’ work is displayed in museums and private collections worldwide, he also relishes creating masterpieces that will never be seen outside his own home – a tiny community in northern B.C.

“We bought a house on 87 acres of Skeena River Valley paradise, close to the town of Hazelton, six years ago, and immediately began extensive renovations. I designed the spaces to suit a lifestyle surrounded by horses, family, garden, and creativity. 

Roy Henry Vickers on His Home

We love our home – when standing on the sundeck we can toss a pebble into the Skeena River. I’ve been an artist for 35 years, and drawing since I was old enough to hold a pencil, so it influences everything I do. 

I tore the house apart, had a post-and-beam barn and stables that I sketch constructed, and landscaped the property all at the same time. Although I’m 64, it’s my young wife, seven children, and the country life I now live that keep me energetic.

An Artist’s Remodelling

The house used to have an A-frame front, with dramatic vaulted ceiling and large, pointed windows. But it was impractical – every word spoken bounced off of it. So we extended the front of the house, adding a living room and a beautiful bedroom overtop of it as a second floor. The windows that were part of the vaulted ceiling now reach the rafters in our bedroom. 

My favourite room is the bedroom because that’s where I spend a lot of time with my wife. It has heated slate floors and a king-sized bed surrounded by spalted birch walls and built-in drawers that replace closets.

The bed isn’t finished yet: I’m designing a large headboard to look like a tiny longhouse, with my wife’s eagle and whale crest carved in it. The four-poster bed will have adzed posts shaped like killer whale fins. The room has a sundeck overlooking the river, and a six-foot square shower with river rock floor, using wide, very flat rocks we picked from the river. 

On the first level, the living room has a wraparound sundeck, leather sofas and comfortable chairs in either corner where we sit to have morning coffee and look out to the river. A massive river rock fireplace reaches from floor to ceiling in the centre of the open-plan house, just off of the kitchen and living room.

The dining room table is a favourite. It’s 12-feet long in edge-grained cedar – I harvested the cedar and designed it – and everyone who enters the room comments on it. We use it; last night 40 people were here for dinner. 

Vickers’ Art Showcase

This level resembles a gallery, showcasing my paintings, screen prints and carvings. Two eight-foot totem poles are carved in the shape of eagles, one wrapping itself around a pole that holds a massive fir beam extending along the ceiling. I have pieces by Hokusai and Hiroshige (Japanese woodblock printers from two centuries ago), who inspired the way I view the world and my art. 

I’m a hereditary chief so I display a chief’s rattle and headdress by Glen Tallio (when I’m not wearing them as a peace dancer). I have heritage family photographs from First Nations and the British Isles, a “copper,” and a collection of antique baskets given to my wife’s grandfather, the first doctor in the Comox Valley (people paid him with artifacts). 

There’s an enormous collection of books: as a young artist, I walked into the Haunted Book Shop in Victoria – with long hair, headband and bare feet – and bought the oldest books they had – expensive Northwest Coast culture books from the early 1900s – to learn about my father’s people. Everything is displayed in places where all can touch them: my children know their value. 

A carved door leading to the sunroom was originally the door of my Tofino gallery and studio. When the gallery became too busy to work in, I moved out and took the door with me. I have a home studio in the original master bedroom…and a more private space in Kispiox village that 
I call The Hiding Place.”

Originally published in BC Home magazine. For monthly updates, subscribe to the free BC Home e-newsletter, or purchase a subscription to the bi-monthly magazine.