“This piece of very old whalebone was gifted to me some years ago by a kind stranger. I have looked at it for ages wondering what to do with it — then the idea of the hood came to mind. I inlaid the hood with an ivory face. The walrus tusk was acquired through the West Baffin Co-operative. I looked at the face and to me it looked strong and spiritual so I decided to add pieces to the sculpture to make him into a shaman. I had also been gifted the walrus vertebrae some time ago and this natural shape became a flying owl that carried the shaman. I liked the idea of the owl carrying the shaman on his journey. I needed the owl to have a spiritual feel so I gave it human hands. I did not like the flat back of the owl so I carved it and inlaid antler plumes for the tail feathers. I decided to carve antler feathers for the owl spirit to hold to represent wings and give the idea of flight. I thought about inlaying the owl’s eyes but then decided against it as I did not want to distract from the shaman’s face. I also liked the ghostly glazed eyes created on carving the bone. I added the necklace of amulets to make him even more powerful. Many people have said it reminds them of my Great Uncle Horace Gaudie who was one of the last traditional trappers of Labrador making a living from trapping on the Grand River. He is in his 90s now and is renowned character in Labrador. The claws and teeth were all given to me over the years by friends and hunters. For all the reasons, from the gifting of all the many materials to the likeness of my uncle, I found this piece hard to part with as it had so much sentimental value to me.”
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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