Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

“it’s irrelevant”


This is an old piece of stone that I had for many years and all that was carved was the body of the figure. Then I started to think of adding the feet, hands and head. The idea came from when I was first introduced to the Inuit art world and the topic of power tools being used to make carvings. At that time and I guess still now, there were and are people that believed that a “traditional” Inuit stone sculpture was made only with hand tools. There was such a stigma about it some galleries and collectors would not collect any carving if it was known to have been made using power tools. I can understand this, to a point.

Back in the days of James Houston and up to the late 1970s and early 1980s, the introduction of power tools was non-existent. So, for those times it was obvious that the hand tools were used to make the piece. However, today and in the last 15 years Inuit artists have been introduced to the south and the new technologies unknown in the north. Inuit artists were introduced to international art and techniques that would allow them to create works much faster buy using tools which were able to cut the hardest stone, allowing the creator to get more works out and to keep up with supply and demand.

For me, it is not what was used to make the piece, rather the person who made it and the story behind it. Either way the end product comes out the same, it is just that one happens to be faster than the other. So this is me, holding an angle grinder and a pick, in conversation saying “it’s irrelevant” because to me it is irrelevant as to how the piece was created.

—Michael Massie

Michael Massie

Michael Massie


Inuit, Métis

Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

(1962- )

Massie’s work is a reflection of his mixed Inuit, Métis and Scottish heritage. In it, he investigates both traditional and contemporary themes. He has achieved renown for his innovative teapots that combine themes and symbols from his native Inuit culture with European traditions. Massie has been twice short-listed for the coveted Prix Saidye Bronfman and has an extensive international reputation. His work has been shown in North America and Europe, including the National Gallery of Canada. He was elected a member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011.