Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

“a surreal look at shamanism”


I generally have the basis of a story in my mind as I work on a piece, however, to be truthful, I wasn’t thinking of one with this piece. Instead, I was concentrating more on the overall aesthetic of the piece. I have always been fond of the surrealists — and from the start, I had this in mind — and just kept going with it. I like making kayaks, because of the shape — and what can be added to it. Here I decided to have the whale’s tail as the stern of the kayak… and from this it was only fitting that I should add the eyes to the side. I looked at many photos of whales to see where the eyes are in proportion the the rest of the body — and from there I added the mast with a sail. Now keeping in mind the surreal theme, I fashioned the mast to look more like an arm and hand (with the thumb coming out of the elbow). The mast is fitted to where the whale’s blowhole should be.

I titled the piece like this because, in a way, the work becomes a look at itself. The premise of surrealism is that it is an interpretation of the subconscious — and dreamlike images work quite well with works that try to illustrate this — which goes hand in hand with themes dealing with shamanism, as this is also about the subconscious and dreamlike states. We all have influences — ideas gleaned from things previously seen or worked on, but images can become whatever the creators can conjure up in their minds — as long as the image is truthful and honest unto itself.

—Michael Massie

Michael Massie

Michael Massie


Inuit, Métis

Happy Valley - Goose Bay, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

(1962- )

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.