The idea for this piece came about after watching a documentary “People of the Feather”, about the Inuit on the south-east side of the Hudson Bay. Hunters talked about how the ice has changed because of the hydro-electric dams in Northern Quebec. Their feeling was that - because the Hydro Company had changed the amount of fresh water flowing into the Hudson Bay, and at the same time had changed the time of year when the fresh water flowed, that through this change, they have altered the flow of the currents in that part of the Bay, making it unsafe for sea-ice hunting.
Because of this change, the Inuit are unable to hunt seals and ducks upon which they have survived for generations. The amount of fresh water entering at the wrong time of year causes the ice to completely freeze in areas that for many years have been a primary source of their food, the sea ducks. The waters where the ducks normally congregated for their feeding (on sea urchins) started to freeze to small patches, and the ducks themselves began to freeze, because they were using their energy to dive in order to feed… and the water around them began to grow smaller quickly, which made it more difficult for the ducks to stay under longer… in effect, it killed most of them off.
If there was ever a group of people that understood climate and weather, it is most certainly the Inuit people. They have had to live off the land and sea for thousands of years and have witnessed many changes - and most, if not all, not for the good.
In this piece I was trying to capture the man in motion of the drum dance. He is singing of the hardships and the good times, the animals that provided them the ability to survive… and the times of change. He stands on thin ice, that of which they have to contend with today.
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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