“This is a portrait of a hunter with his tools for survival on the land. The face is one of the most detailed faces that I have carved. To appreciate the delicate features, the face needs to be lit from above as then all the wrinkles in the skin will become more evident. This piece of anhydrite is from Newfoundland and was kindly gifted to me by Michael Massie. I wanted to keep the stone in its natural state leaving the cracks in the stone as part of the composition. I only smoothed the parka hood and for contrast parts of the base. I think the roughness of the stone works well capturing the feeling of fur around the face and for the tools lying on the surface of the ice.
I chose four specific tools required by the hunter. Firstly, the traditional snow goggles that protected his eyes from becoming snow blind. Secondly, the essential hunting knife needed for gutting and skinning. Thirdly, the harpoon that is used for hunting seals at breathing holes. The harpoon is usually about six feet long with a detachable head and a rope that runs the length of the shaft and is tied around the wrist. The rope on this harpoon is real caribou sinew that I have removed and cleaned from a caribou that I had hunted. Harpoons like this are still used by hunters today. In fact I used a harpoon like this last year and darted a seal on the ice. Finally, there is the rifle that is used to hunt caribou and seals. I carved a Winchester 94, this was the first rifle that I ever owned and this is the first rifle I have ever carved. This rifle was very difficult to carve, especially the baleen detailing. The trigger and lever are all one tiny piece of baleen. I wanted the rifle to be as exact as possible, so the front and rear sights on the rifle actually line up. This 7 rounds, lever-bolt action, Winchester 94 was the first commercial repeating rifle and extremely popular in the north and is still used today.
I initially thought about carving out detailed positions to fit each tool but then I preferred the idea of just subtle grooves indicating direction but for the tools to sit on the top, just as if they would be laid on the rough ice surface. I have used all these tools, except the snow goggles. Today it is sunglasses for everybody, but one day I want to carve myself a pair and wear them to experience the old ways.”
Billy was born on July 7, 1978, in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Labrador. In his early years he travelled eastern Canada residing and schooling in Ottawa, Yarmouth and Halifax in Nova Scotia, then at the age of thirteen returned to live in Goose Bay. He now lives in North West River in Labrador and enjoys fishing and hunting on the land with his family.
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