When this piece was in its raw stage I had a completely different design on the surface. One night in the studio I was looking over the stone and decided to draw the outline of it. From there I just played around with various ideas and the end result ended up pretty much the same as the sketch. I wanted to get as much of a big head as possible and the bone had to be as white as possible.
The idea behind this piece is of a shaman who has entered the spirit world and has taken on the forms of other creatures: the owl and the walrus being two. I didn’t want the man to have a human nose — but rather an owl’s beak/nose — and this was to add to the idea of the intermingling of the spirits. As I began to shape the stone, I realized that the back of the stone had to work with the front — so this is how the owl was added. The owl form was used for its attributes of sight and its wisdom — and the walrus was used for its strength for getting back and forth to the spirit world. I wanted the forms to be simple with just simple flowing lines which tie the two sides together.
I extended the arms and wings upwards as if in an exchanging gesture where it gives the idea that they are exchanging shapes and features.
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.
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