I have this book, “The Inuit Hunters of the North”, by Bryan and Cherry Alexander. They talk about their trip to northern Greenland and mention at one point the catching of dovekies (little birds) by using a long pole with a net attached. With a photo of this event following their text it became apparent why this time of year can be fun — and at the same time provide food and clothing. The photo, which is on page 93, has always caught my attention, mainly because of the long pole with the net.
Always keeping ideas in the back of my head, one day I found the perfect stone. The shape allowed the hunter to be sitting with one arm up and the other across his midsection. With this design I was then able to have the long pole as I was able to have it go through one hand and into the other. I gave the figure (which I like to call Sami, named after the Greeland Inuit), an open mouth — to convey exasperation and I made the teeth this way because there are times when the dovekies are eaten raw.
When it came time to make the pole I wanted it to be curved to give movement, it had to look as if the pole is being lifted quickly. At first I wasn’t going to add a bird in the net but after some convincing from my wife, Jo-Ann, I went with it as it adds to the story. For a time I contemplated painting the wood the same colour as the actual bird (black and white), but instead stained it a dark brown, acting as more of a silhouette to make it less dramatic. Oh, and thanks to my friend Donald who gave me the smelt net, as it worked out to be the exact size I was looking for to add to the frame.
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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