|Jaalen and Gwaai with the new box on the left and |
the original box on the right © Pitt Rivers Museum
The original box, made in the late 1800s, is from Haida Gwaii, a group of islands on the northwest coast of Canada. This first came to the attention of Gwaai and Jaalen during a Haida First Nation visit to examine collections at the Pitt Rivers Museum and the British Museum in 2009.
At the time the Haida delegates identified the box as a masterpiece in carving and pointed out objects like this are needed in Haida Gwaii to inspire artists and carvers.
|Haida box PRM 1884.57.25 © Pitt Rivers Museum|
Even the Western red cedar wood being used to make the box has travelled specially all the way from Haida Gwaii.
Known as a bentwood box, I was really impressed to hear how this is carved from a single section of wood. Gwaai and Jaalen explained how they had to firstly make an undercut in the wood. The area along the undercut was then steamed for about 15 minutes. This made the wood pliable enough to bend to form a corner.
|Jaalen working on the new box|
© Pitt Rivers Museum
|Pointing out the face of the Chief of the Undersea World with|
Mouse Woman below on the replica box © Pitt Rivers Museum
If you are a carver and live nearby I encourage you to come to book a space this Thursday (18 September) at 2 pm when Gwaii and Jaalen are having a 'woodcarvers gathering'.
You can also keep up-to-date with the 'Great Box Project' by following blogs posted by Laura Peers, the Museum Curator of the Americas collections. Laura will also be giving a free Saturday spotlight talk about the project in the Museum on 15 November at 2.30 pm. I encourage you to come along if you can.
Senior Assistant Curator