Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

“the inconceivable string game”


It is almost the end of 2016 and I wanted to make something that had meaning to me. This is also the last of my big pieces of serpentine for now - and I wanted it to be special.

If you are someone who has followed my work over the years you may recognize some similarities in this piece to one that I made about 10 years ago - ” grandfather I have something to tell you” “. That piece was based on an event in my younger years…and it turns out, so is this one. Although unplanned, I realized later that they both have similar stances (both are standing on one leg and kneeling on the other) - and there is a look of anguish in the faces. Once I noticed that they both rather looked alike, I decided to accept it and work with another story from around the same time period in my life as the - “grandfather I have something to tell you” - piece.

When I was much younger, the finger string-game was quite popular for awhile - and like most other kids around that time, this was something that we all learned to play - and would then pass on to someone else that showed interest. Now, personally, I may have had the interest, but there is a big difference in watching someone do the cats-cradle (or something more complicated, like the witches- broom) and trying to achieve the same outcome!

I have always thought of myself as someone who very much enjoyed working with my hands, so when it came to the string-game, I figured I’d be able to make the string magically move around my fingers and from hand to hand, like the others I watched do this…but such was not the case… I was all thumbs. To make matters worse, the fact that there was so much string and that there were so many moves, I was flabbergasted by the whole ordeal. That was it - after a few more attempts, I knew that this was going to be “the inconceivable string game”.

I do have to give credit to my better half, Jo-Ann, for helping me to finally understand how to make the cats-cradle. It is always good to know that you are never too old to learn!

—Michael Massie

Michael Massie

Michael Massie


Inuit, Métis

Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

(1962- )

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.