Before I start a piece, I will take a few rocks that are interesting in their shape and lay them out on my table and look them over. There are times when I will have a theme or story in mind — but there are times when the shape of the rock gives me an idea, but it really isn’t until I am working the stone that a story or idea comes to mind.
This one is one of the latter. Moving around the rock, I look at it on all edges, but it is only one edge that allows me to see what is in the stone… which is a walrus, sitting, with its front flippers crossed over each other, while sitting on a small rock.
OK, the grinding has started and I am able to see the form as I saw it in my head. The form of the walrus as it sits hunched over reminds me of another piece that I have seen — the famous piece from Auguste Rodin, “The Thinker” (1880). It is the position of the walrus’s shoulders that bring on this thought.
I go with this thought, and I make him looking down, as if deep in thought or contemplation. I had him sit on a small rock, to be both a bit uncomfortable and uneasy in his thinking. “The Thinker”, of course, has a large chair that he sits on — and while leaning over tends not to over power the viewer. After reading up on Rodin’s work — it is interesting how things can relate without trying… and all out of looking over a stone on my bench!
What is “The Thinker” thinking? Yes, I know it it is just a bronze sculpture, but it has universally come to portray the act of constant thought or contemplation. Always thinking — which we as humans see as part of our DNA. It is what sets us apart as a species, in that we think, ponder, and investigate how things work and how things relate.
And I think that is just what this piece, “sitting atop a small rock — thinking about — the thinker”, is also about… relating and thinking.
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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.
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