May 2, 2009

Clint Work 'Raven' Mask

Lattimer Gallery has been purchasing artwork from Clint Work since 2001 and he continues to progress at an impressive rate. Clint is mainly self-taught, but he apprenticed with Phil Ashbee and has worked with many artists in Campbell River and Nanaimo. He started creating jewellery in 2005 and has trained under established jeweler, Kelvin Thompson.

Clint puts a huge amount of work into every piece he creates. For example, he gathers, cleans and processes all of his own cedar bark for his masks. Many artists have weavers create the bark for them. In his new Raven mask, Clint has knife-finished many of the surfaces, processed and woven his own cedar bark, and created a decorative stand.

The Kwakwaka’wakw culture, based in the north of Vancouver Island and on the mainland of southwest British Columbia, traditionally divides its year into ceremonial months and non-ceremonial months. The Tsetseka, or ceremonial season, begins in the late autumn and is marked by feasting and the activation of ancient dancing societies. There are four main societies in Kwakwaka’wakw culture: the Winalagilis, the Atlakim, the Dluwalakha (or Klasila), and the Hamat’sa.

The secretive Hamat’sa society and its dancing rituals are based around the initiations of a novice dancer. The ceremonial winter Hamat’sa dance often lasts for several days and contains a large cast of characters who educate, terrify and challenge the nominated novice. While there are numerous representational spirits and creatures involved in this dancing ceremony, the primary figures are those of birds who inhabit the Sky-World and interact with human life below. These birds are guided by the spirit Baxbaxwalanuksiwe ("Man-Eater at the North End of the World") and include the Cannibal (or Hamat'sa) Raven, the Hokhokw, and the Crooked Beak. Clint's impressive Raven mask resembles a smaller version of the large-scale Hamat'sa Raven masks that are danced.

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