This tea set is a continuation of the theme of the “wonders of a song” teapot. The challenge was to get all the pieces to relate to each other—and I had the idea to make it as a family. This is a family overjoyed by the spring of the new year—when there are plenty of fish to catch.
The man is the teapot, and is already in the process of fishing and is signalling (with his thumb stuck up) that the prospects are good and there are plenty of fish. The woman is the creamer, and is expressing her excitement with her arms in the air, holding the ulu… just ready to cut, clean, and hang the fish to dry. The small boy is the sugar bowl, and is bent over, saying, “wait up, I have found my harpoon—and I’m ready to help!”
The tray was made into a circle, to represent the igloo. The structure of the igloo is low, showing that spring is upon them—and it is almost melted. I made the tray smaller than with previous sets, as I wanted that feeling of crowdedness and being cramped—the way it is with most igloos. The feet were probably the most difficult to design… they are so important to the overall design and I went through quite a number of ideas before the simplest one was so obviously the best. Using the fish tails for the feet illustrates the whole purpose of what the family is doing—and how important the fish are to their diet.
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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