I was in Toronto recently (April 2011), and had the chance to see some great sculpture that inspired me to try something a little different. I was impressed by a number of Sednas that were a great help in getting me thinking of designs and new approaches.
So when I first began looking over this piece of stone, that was what I was looking for in the stone. After some looking and preliminary sketching I came up with this design — where the sea-goddess is swimming backwards and looking up at the viewer. I chose this position because it is a vantage-point in composition rarely seen in work dealing with this theme. At the point where I was considering how to make the tail, I decided to use brass, because the two colours (the stone and the metal) work very well together. I wanted the brass left as a matte-finish rather than a high shine as the gloss becomes distracting to the viewer and I felt that it would take away from the piece. The brass domes are both as decorative and functional (as there are four of the domes with extended posts that hold the tail in place). The use of the seal skin allows the visual flow between the stone and the brass to work better and ties the two mediums together. As for the nipples, I used the darker marrow of the bone, because while I wanted a contrast with the stone, I didn’t want the treatment too obvious and becoming a focal point.
My intent was to have the Sedna free-flowing through the seas, and to be very carefree and also very confident. She swims upside-down and backwards with her hair flowing freely around her. Holding her left breast, she projects self-confidence and self-assurance, and is so pleased with the way that people have been treating and respecting each other — and the animals that sustain them — that she is willing to offer the people life without being asked. She is a loving and caring mother of the deep, and when she sees the good that is going on in the world she becomes very happy.
I chose the title “she’s brass!” for two reasons: Obviously I used brass to make the tail, and because of what “brass” can mean: Informal. extreme boldness or self-assurance, impudence. I found the play on the meaning with the use of brass to be quite funny, which works for me.
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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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