Picking out the next stone for another piece can be fun and this was the case with this one. When I came across this piece I just knew that it was going to be the next piece I would carve. It had such an interesting and odd shape that I was immediately interested.
As I looked it over, I saw the faces first — and then it was the other forms that appeared. Because from the start I had seen two faces, I decided that they would have to stay… and then it became interesting…as I knew that I would have to have a story that could make the relationship of the two figures work.
Because both the Owl and the Walrus were made to relate and interact with each of the faces, I began to think of how, at times, people can think of or even do the same thing at the same time; like reaching for the same thing or starting a conversation at exactly same time way while seeking the same goals. I have always found this quite amazing and intriguing.
On one side I had the man/shaman hunched over with a flipper for one hand while in the other he holds a comb. On the other side, I had the man/shaman as part-man part-walrus. The flipper in the foreground belongs to both the man and the walrus, they blend into each other. The Walrus and the Owl become their helping spirits… one for its wisdom and the other for its strength.
The story goes that there were two men who were also the most powerful shamans in their regions. While they did not know each other, their beliefs were the same, in that that they respected each other’s opinions and were of a similar nature about what to do when there were times of starvation. The people would call upon the shamans to contact the Sedna in the hopes that they could convince her to fill their bellies with country food.
While the shamans did not know each other, it just so happens that they were looking for the same thing and ended up in the same place at the same time. The comb was brought in the hope of soothing Sedna and to entice her to release the animals.
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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