Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

“sedna and the shaman”


Elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, May 2011.

When teaching back in 1993, I had used this piece of soapstone as a demonstration piece for my students. At the time, I only ever got as far as the tail, never working the head because I was never sure as to the final shape. Looking it over now I could see how the head should be, so I began to mark the stone.

The big thing that attracted me to this particular stone was its softness. With all the other stones I work, they have always been too hard to give great detail—but with this stone I could do something I’ve never done before—and to be quite honest, it was fun, so very much fun to be giving a piece this much detail!

Getting back to the piece, right from the start, I’ve always known that this piece would be a Sedna—it just had that shape. So, when I decided to take the time to look at the piece over once again, I really paid attention to the shape. I wanted her hair to look as if she was floating through the water—as if she was swimming. With the softness of the stone, I was able to concentrate on the detail, and as I did, I found it very hard to put it down once I got started! So, knowing there was to be a Sedna on top of the petrified wood that became the base, all I could think of was to add seaweed to the little shelf that juts out on the base.

Trying to keep this story short, I was working on three different pieces at the same time. I was working on the Sedna and the seaweed base… and an Owl… and a man/walrus piece… all three at the same time. Well I got the rough work done on the Sedna and the Owl and I was just starting to grind the man/walrus—only to find out that the stone was the wrong stuff… it was a stone I picked up from the beach here in Stephenville and which was not serpentine. As a consequence, I had to scrap this piece altogether. I began to think of working two smaller pieces to ship out to you with these two (the sedna and the owl), I began to work on what is now the shaman, and that is when I got the idea to add this piece to the Sedna and have it as one. Where I was originally going to add the seaweed, I decided to place the Shaman, I figured it would work better. So this is when it became “the sedna and the shaman”.

I’ve kept her arms to her side as if she was gliding to deeper waters. This is where the shaman is—in deeper waters. The deeper you go, the heavier the shamanism. As she glides deeper she comes across the shaman, who in turn looks at her with a grin, as if to say “I’m just checking—things are good up on top—and I just want to make sure that everything is good with you!” The Sedna in turn gives him a fleeting grin!

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.