I had bugs on my mind when I had this rock on the table. I wanted to make another with legs of some sort. I started to look through some old encyclopaedias for insects and the first worm I came across was a potato bug. The stage I liked the most was the larva stage, as it was big and fat and wrinkly and with some patterns on it body.
As I began to think of how this piece could come together, I also began to think of the story — and here is what I came up with:
The North has seen great change over recent years — not just for the influx of people but also the moves towards industrialisation… and the change in available food and culture. In the North, bugs are not plentiful — with the exception of the black fly and the mosquito. I have talked with friends of mine from the North and they have said over the years there have been many different kinds of insects appearing. There are a few that they have acquired a great dislike for — spiders… bumble bees — and every year there are new ones.
This man worked for the Northern Store as a freight agent. When the freight came in on the barges for the winter stock, he was there overseeing the operation. As things were being off-loaded, it so happened that a flat of potatoes broke from its hook as it was lifted off the barge. Being the agent in charge, he had to manage the clean up and make sure the off-loading continued. To keep things moving and not hold up the other workers, he decided to clean up the loose potatoes himself. For some reason one of the spuds he had just picked up caught his attention and he took a closer look at this foreign vegetable… and noticed something more. There was some kind of a fat and really ugly insect that was attached to the potato by its six front legs!
Now, insects were not among his favourite things, in his fear of them he had developed an intense hatred… so his sudden reaction to this insect caused the other workers around to practically fall down with laughter. Nearly jumping out of his boots, he threw down the potato and ran in the opposite direction the potato went.
As the day wore on the word was out on how he had reacted to the ‘bug’ — but that didn’t phase him in the least — all he could think about was that he actually touched that ugly worm. It still played on his mind as he went home that evening. Nothing existed that night except for that stupid bug… that is how he fell asleep.
As he slipped into his troubled sleep, his eyes began moving very dramatically and then the twitches started. This went on for some time and then he began acting like he was covered in bugs and began rubbing his body as if to get something off. Finally he jumped from his bed and screamed, “I don’t want to be a bug — I don’t want to be a bug.”
Later when asked what his dream was about, he said that when he had touched the bug in his dream, he transformed into what he had seen and touched earlier that day.
All in all, I guess you could say, “he was bugged by his dream”!
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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