Haida piece most significant for British Museum

  • Jul. 25, 2011 12:00 p.m.

By Heather Ramsay–A British Museum curator says the museum’s purchase of a Michael Nicoll Yahgulanaas piece from his Copper from the Hood series is the most significant addition to the North American collection in many years. Mr. Yahgulanaas sent the new commission, made from the hood of a Toyota Tercel, in February and was pleased to receive a picture of staff opening the crate in front of the Rosetta Stone. The piece, painted in copper leaf, plays on the word Tercel which comes from the Latin tersus, meaning smoothly elegant and polished. The copper “shines like a brand new penny,” says Mr. Yahgulanaas who is fond of including puns in his art, but his hoods also echo the tradition of making coppers as a show of wealth. The design, painted in black, is of a storyteller, says Mr. Yahgulanaas, or it could be a bird. He intends for the viewer to rotate the piece and chose which way it should be displayed. “Through that process the observer becomes more responsible and more of an authority on the piece than the artist,” he said. The piece will be on display in London until September and then will head to Abu Dhabi as part of the Treasures from the British Museum show. Currently, Mr. Yahgulanaas is working on a piece of public art in galvanized steel called the “Abundance Bracelet.” The 127-foot sculpture, reminiscent of a bracelet, was commissioned by the City of Vancouver and will be installed at 33rd Avenue and Knight Street. In the fall, Mr. Yahgulanaas will take on the Audain Professorship in Contemporary Art Practice of the Pacific Northwest at the University of Victoria. He is the second person to take this role. Rebecca Belmore was the first. Mr. Yahgulanaas said he’s honoured to follow in her footsteps and is looking forward to working with students in formal art training, as he has not had any himself.