Copper from the Hood

  • February 8, 2011
  • Toyota Tercel steel automobile hood, copper leaf, paint
  • 140 x 80 cm

Treasures of the World's Cultures, The British Museum

Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas' work Copper from the Hood is featured in Treasures of the World's Cultures, a travelling exhibition showcasing more than 250 cultural treasures from the prestigious British Museum. Treasures of the World's Cultures has toured the globe over the past 18 months, with stops in Australia, the Middle East and Europe. Currently, Copper from the Hood is on display at the exhibition's presentation at Bundeskunsthalle (Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany) in Bonn.

Fabricated from a car hood embellished with copper leaf, Copper from the Hood references the coppers which were a traditional sign of wealth amongst the Haida - the indigenous nation located off Canada's northwest coast - while locating the work within the contemporary context of a world where value is defined by cars and other consumer goods. Commissioned by The British Museum, this work presents imagery created in Yahgulanaas' distinctive Haida manga style and is one of a series of 15 works made with automobile hoods.

Jonathan King, former chief of The British Museum's department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas and now with Cambridge University, said "What is exceptional about Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas' art is the imaginative leap – how Michael's design sense and sure skill in drawing and conceptual realization – enables him to re-situate the Haida."

Measuring 132cm x 107cm (52" x 42") the work is designed to be rotated by the viewer and to spark new perspectives from new angles. Depending on the angle, Copper from the Hood may be seen as a bird or a storyteller or something else which the viewer perceives.

"I want the observer to decide which is the preferred horizon, and that may change for them," says Yahgulanaas, "I am concerned that much of our responsibility as individuals and citizens is handed over or given away to others and that this undermines personal accountability and sovereignty and, at its extreme, seriously weakens the structure and advantages of a democracy. The authority of the artist to say what the work is about need not be at the expense of the observer's own opinions, so that is why I created a rotational technique."

Exhibition Dates:

  • Bundeskunsthalle (Art and Exhibition Hall of the Federal Republic of Germany), Bonn, Germany, 30 November 2012 to 7 April 2013.
  • Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, 18 April to 17 July 2012.
  • Western Australian Museum, Perth, Australia, 25 October 2011 to 5 February 2012.