As it is difficult for me to get the serpentine, I always try and utilize the stone to get as much from it as possible, and wasting very little. This particular piece of stone is a good example. After I had balanced the stone, I allowed the existing edges and curves of the stone to tell me what to make. From the very beginning I could see two faces — one on each end. I wanted to keep as much of the original shape as possible so what was removed was the ‘V’ notch on top of their backs — with very little taken out on the bottom to balance it. The most stone that was removed was for the owl.
There is a carving in the book, Inuit Art, by Ingo Hessel, page, 128. #105 (top), Tivi Paningajak (possibly), Two Walrus Heads, 1956; which has always caught my attention for its simplicity in design but which at the same time is very effective. I was looking to achieve this same effect with this piece.
As for the story which grew as I worked — I was thinking about those situations where there is a dispute between two people which, no matter how long it lasts, can never see either side agree with the other. Here the story is about two shamans, each one believing they have the strongest powers. As the argument continues they begin to show off their abilities… with each one trying to outdo the other. They have been at it for so long that it is driving everyone around them crazy, so this is where the owl comes in. The owl, being the “guide” to the spirit world, steps in to settle things down by simply telling them that the best thing to do here is to “just agree to disagree”.
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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