Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

“the man who swallowed a fish, that fish that swallowed a man”


This was a piece that was conjured up after I read a story by Irene Avaalaqiaq “Story of fish that swallows people.” (From the book, “Qamanittuaq: Drawings by Baker Lake artists: Where the River Widens” p.117). The story (and drawing) told of a person standing on a shoreline waiting for a giant fish to come and swallow him. When it actually happens, the person then transforms into something else. This inspired me because it reminded me of how I would think when I was younger and would just let my imagination go. While I didn’t actually use this story as the basis for this piece, the tale brings out the possibility for many ideas… and this is one for me.

The man has a pot belly as if to say he has had more than his fill. That is all.

—Michael Massie

Relating this image to a story, Irene Avaalaqiaq explained that this drawing represents a sequence of actions:

“There’s a story that a person was standing on a shoreline or somewhere waiting for a giant fish to come along and swallow him. The giant fish came along and swallowed the person and, as the person was being swallowed, the person turned into a bird or maybe a fish. This is one image (i.e. a single giant fish) in movement. Out here (lower right corner of the drawing), the fish is starting to swallow a person. There (just above the first image), it goes inside: and out here (left side of the drawing) the bird is coming out of the giant fish. As it comes out, you can see it. The lines on the fish show the movement of the fish through the water. I got the idea of a human face (for the giant fish) because someone on the shoreline was pretending to be a human. One thing I was going to make was an island, but the paper was so small that it cannot include every detail of the story.”

—From the book, “Qamanittuaq: Drawings by Baker Lake artists: Where the River Widens”, p.117, Marion Jackson, Judith Nasby and William Noah, 1994.

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.