These two faces represent two helping spirits. The one is a human spirit whereas the other is an animal spirit. The animal spirit has a fox ear, a seal nose and a caribou antler. These helping spirits will protect the hunter on the land and help him have a successful hunt finding food for his family.
The small face in the antler is a wind spirit who will provide good weather for the hunt and also protect him from any extreme elements. The caribou hair was naturally attached to the antler and so I decided to leave it on as it worked in the natural grey colour and all windswept back to strengthen the face.
The two faces are both carved from Wooly Mammoth ivory but in two natural contrasting colours. This ivory from Siberia was gifted to me at ‘Circum-Arctic Art Show’, Reykjavik, Iceland, in October 2015. The darker colour ivory is possibly from the sedimentary stone where it fossilized. In designing the piece I decided to inlay the white ivory human face with darker ivory bits for the teeth and eye - and then alternatively inlay the whiter ivory for the teeth and eye in the darker animal spirit face.
In my research I have seen Labrador masks of both men and women wearing tattoos so these two small faces could be either male or female. The Labrador masks were generally made in wood and were more simpler versions of the Aleutian style masks with added feathers, whiskers and bits attached and were used for shamanic purposes.
If one cuts the white ivory at the right angle then one discovers very fine cross-hatched lines that are known as schreger lines which are only found in mammoth ivory and add incredible natural detailing to the human face. The darker more fossilized ivory has natural wood grain like lines which I used in the design of the animal spirit and to especially emphasize the white eye.
There was so much time consuming detailing in producing this sculpture, the stippling on the antler stand, carving the tiny dark face in the eye of the human spirit face, and making the sinew threads .The sinew has to be removed from the caribou, cleaned, fibers separated and then spun before the final braiding which all takes time.
Billy was born on July 7, 1978, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. In his early years he travelled eastern Canada residing and schooling in Ottawa, Yarmouth and Halifax in Nova Scotia, then at the age of thirteen returned to live in Goose Bay. He now lives in North West River in Labrador and enjoys fishing and hunting on the land with his family.
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