I would like to be able to say that my foray into mask making was born from a sophisticated artistic vision …perhaps a recognition of some cultural void that needed to be filled …maybe an epiphany which drove me relentlessly to bring my profound altruistic message to the world…sadly this was not the case. Although I cannot pinpoint the exact date upon which my moment of inspiration arrived, I do know exactly where it took place and what was going on at the time. The photographic record does not lie. I was on my back porch and I was stoned.
It was sometime in the early years of the new millennium – likely a summer evening judging by our clothes – I was at my home on 17th Avenue, in Vancouver, hanging out on my porch with my two deer friends, Craig and Ben, and we were stoned. Somewhere during our inebriated journey that evening I had picked up a tree branch which – in my mind – gave the appearance of deer antlers when affixed to one’s head. What jolly fun – a literal Stag Party. Taking turns acting out our archetypal Bucks…our inner Harts…
Ben decided – either of his own volition or through friendly goading – to give us two depictions of the Good/Evil archetype by grimacing and posturing during the second shot. I liked these two photos of Ben who was – in life – consummately good, and never evil…so I labeled them with tiny yellow stickies and stuck them on the corkboard in my kitchen for all to see. Good Ben, Evil Ben.
The antics of that evening remained with me, and gave rise to further – sober or otherwise – thoughts. Could I fabricate a ceramic human-faced mask, and attach real deer antlers to it, and how might that be accomplished? I knew that antlers would not survive firing in the kiln so they would need to be attached after the firing/glazing process…how could they be affixed without falling off? Where does one obtain antlers? Where did Ben perfect the art of looking so Evil?
These and other thoughts would need to frolic in my consciousness for a while before they could form a committee and then table a resolution to cobble together a request for follow-up action. As one who doesn’t always act quickly – except for ill-fated decisions and bad choices – this process would take at least two years…from concept to creation. Fortunately, Ben was there on my kitchen wall to both encourage and frighten me with his Jekyll and Hyde personas.
Although pollination and germination were slow, the antler-branch would eventually bare fruit. If you are at all intrigued, the first harvest of that conceptual sowing can be viewed in the following article: “Mask Making – Túatha the Prototype” – https://clayandbone.com/2017/04/22/mask-making-tuatha-the-prototype/