- Museum number
- Object: Air meets Water
Base of a cedar wood plank, carved with additional inlaid composite created from aluminium, animal bone ash and graphite. Three vertical carved cedar wood scultpures on steel dowelling pedestals, two are painted. Three vertical sculptures include carved representations of a raven, eagle, orca with coppers in beak of raven and copper wings on the eagle.
- Production date
- 2017 (Summer)
Height: 60 centimetres
Width: 95 centimetres
Depth: 50 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- The Americas curators had the privilege of watching celebrated contemporary sculptor Corrine Hunt, put the final touches on a commissioned art piece for the Americas collection, 'Where air meets water'. This art piece is a legacy of the exhibition Where the Thunderbird Lives: cultural resilience on the Northwest Coast of North America and celebrates the relationship between the British Museum and our colleagues at the U’Mista Cultural Centre on Alert Bay, British Columbia, who were instrumental in the success of the exhibition. U’Mista board member and world renowned artist Hunt, also known as Nugwam Gelatleg’lees, is originally from Alert Bay but now lives in Vancouver where she travels widely for research and exhibitions.
When she delivered the art work personally to the Museum, it was unassembled. From an enormous box, Hunt pulled out a large cedar plank and proceeded to nail three wooden self-standing sculptures to it. The Red Cedar plank is inlaid with a composite black disc depicting Eagle in Formline style, an artistic tradition unique to Pacific Northwest Coast Peoples. Central to Formline is characteristic shapes (ovoids, Ss, and Us) delineated by swelling and diminishing lines that depict naturalistic and abstract subjects. Hunt’s application of formline looks effortless and dynamic. The freestanding sculptures appear animated as your gaze slips from one carving to the next, noting more details each time. Small copper pieces in the shape of feathers and ‘coppers’ (shield-like statues representing great value) are inset within the wooden sculptures. ‘Where air meets water’ is beautiful and complex.
Addressing themes from the exhibition – cultural resilience and relationships - Hunt focused on the space where ocean waters meet atmosphere. In the Pacific Northwest, life is lived at the ocean’s surface and the shoreline. In particular, orca whales, ravens and eagles – the animals depicted in the freestanding sculptures – thrive in these spaces. Hunt explained, ‘The white raven, the chilkat raven, the air and the water, they’re all so much a part of the West Coast’. She then extended this notion of physical space symbolically to spaces of cultural productions. Hunt:
'Resilience is a single word… and it just goes in so many directions. It’s important… I think the thing that I really wanted to do was create space around the piece, space around the ideas, of what they represent. Around…the tradition that is breaking and finding new places to go.'
As a material metaphor, ‘Where air meets water’ reminds us that cultural resilience is the transformation of traditions as different entities embrace share space.
- Not on display
- Acquisition date
- September 14 2017
- Acquisition notes
- Object commissioned as legacy of exhibition Where the Thunderbird Lives, held in British Museum Room 91 from 23rd February - 27th August 2017.
- Africa, Oceania and the Americas
- Registration number