September 13, 2012Fibreglass, wood, copper, platinum15' x 15'"Craft" is a 15-foot-long rowboat with a 5-foot beam. It was originally built by Gwiis, Wilfred Bennett a Tsiit Gitanee, boat builder from Old Massett. He started this boat as an old man shortly before his death, based on his recollections of the skiffs in Masset in which he used to play.
This vessel is an historical throwback: when these boats were originally built in the 1900s they were designed to be used as hand-powered salmon boats. Within a short time, machine-powered boats appeared on the horizon all along the west coast, becoming the towboats for this and other designs of smaller hand-powered skiffs.
The double-ended rowboat marks a transition from the intimate relationship between fisher and the fish. The machine interface leads us ultimately to today with our tremendous industrial impact on the ocean ecosystem.
This work has ten oars or ten "digits," a reference to the notion of inclusivity, rather than a single set of oars which might become the value of one - exclusivity - even hierarchy and elitism.
10 also because 1 + 0 is a lovely set of binaries. 10 also because in our world view there are 10 worlds that exist simultaneously, each stacked intimately and accessibly above or below its neighbouring world. Craft is suspended on the vertical axis, which is the cosmological map according to Haida understanding. The central axis, the axis mundi, the access route to all these levels is represented by the vessel itself.
The inside of the hull is finished with copper leaf and - as noted by an Englishman friend - in direct opposition to the way that copper was attached to the hulls of the historic sailing ships. Historically, copper protected the vessel from the burrowing Teredo clam. This reversal raises the question of what the hull is now being protected from.
As with much of my recent work, I am using precious metals, here copper on the hull and platinum on the oars. My intention is to examine definitions of value and wealth.
- Art Seen: Being serious about play is no joke for Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas - The Vancouver Sun, April 29, 2016
- Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas’s imagery speaks across cultures - The Georgia Straight, April 27, 2016
- The Seriousness of Play by Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas at the Bill Reid Gallery - Hello Vancity, April 24, 2016