This sculpture captures two very different moods of Sedna and reflects how she can be viewed depending if one is starving or returning with fish for the family.
The one side reflects her as the powerful deity in a facial portrait with tattoos. She is seen as stern, aggressive and protective. She is in control of her realm and keeping her fish close within the safety of her hair.
The other side reflects her body in profile sitting hidden within the locks of her hair. She is smiling, loving and acting as the provider by generously releasing her fish.
I decided to carve her ageless with no wrinkles, not too human and not affected by time, as she is a deity and the goddess who controls the undersea world. I felt the subject matter is more important than the materials. I decided to keep her all carved in stone and uniform in colour as that was easier on the eye. This would prove to be a challenge and more difficult to achieve without the visual distractions of inlays.
This is the most difficult piece that I have ever done and that is because of all the work in the carving of her long hair. Every line in the hair was carved individually and is a single cut by a stroke from a small Foredom bit edge. The need was to make the hair look natural on the portrait and then to have it flow around onto the other side to fit into the other composition. It took me so long to figure this out and how to make the two sides make sense. I had initially intended to have a face portrait on both sides reflecting the two sides of Sedna but decided it was too predictable and boring. My idea proved more difficult to design and carve, especially as I wanted to carve through from one side to the other. On the profile side I wanted her locks to look like kelp and to give the impression that she was hiding within the safety of her hair. The hair was so incredibly thin and fragile in the overlaps and cutaways and so I had to hold my breath when carving in these areas. This fragility also made it difficult to transport as I was carving it at times in several places, North West River, Goose Bay and Rigolet.
I carved the Sedna in Labrador serpentine and decided to make the contrast with the gloss and matte finish. The gloss finish on the face and body was very difficult to achieve especially in the cutaway behind the arms. I had to hand make chisels to sand and polish these areas and at the same time not damage the hair detailing. The frosting technique on the base below her tail was all done by chisel and hammer, every dent is from a small single pointed chisel.
I decided to carve the fish in local soapstone so it was subtly different in colour to the serpentine. Each fish was carved and pegged to fit. I was about to pack up the sculpture and decided that I also needed to complete all the detailing on the fins.
The last task was to complete the tattoos. I was so nervous and needed a steady hand as at this late stage I could not afford a mistake. I am glad I did not inlay the tattoos as this would have been too distracting as I preferred the delicate cut lines on her face.
It is October 2013. This sculpture has taken so long as I started the piece in mid-2012 but I knew I needed to put a lot of work into this commission because I knew where it was going and the importance of the collection.
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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