Nancy Dawson was born in Alert Bay on northern Vancouver Island in September 1954. Her mother, Catherine Beans, was from the Mamaleleqala-awe-qwa-sot-enox nation on Village Island; and her father, Don Gesinghaus, was of German descent. Nancy credits her family for her success as an artist. Her father was a talented wood and metal worker who fashioned intricate wooden railings that both fascinated and inspired Nancy. Her mother raised Nancy in the ‘potlatch circle’ which contributed greatly to Nancy’s sound understanding of her culture. However, it was through Nancy’s efforts to develop her son’s interest and understanding of Kwagiutl art that she became inspired to begin designing. The invitation to reproduce her designs in red and yellow cedar could not, and would not be ignored. Nancy has been carving poles and masks since 1980, being invited to participate in the carving of the word’s largest totem pole which graced the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, BC.
Always open to new challenges, Nancy expanded her portfolio in 1990 to include designing and producing gold and silver jewellery. She began her business with a comprehensive five year plan, determination, and an artistic skill which, says Dawson, “I got from my father”. Nancy attributes her success to her belief in producing a quality item at a good price, and guaranteeing it. Looking for challenges and opportunities to combine art with culture, and a sound understanding of the principles of business, are lessons she is sharing with her son, also a gifted carver; and her sister, as she trains both to join in her business. Dawson has developed a lifestyle rich with creative expression; a lifestyle which includes her family and her culture. Nancy continues to produce outstanding work and welcomes any challenge whereby she can combine her skills as an artist with her culture.