Transcript: Dreams, Myths, and Memories | Mar 09, 1988

A man warmly dressed in a ski sweater and woollen cap trudges through crisp snow. Seen through a window of a house, he approaches. A teepee framework stands in the garden. In the house. The outline of a woman with curly hair and glasses sits in front of a box on a desk.
(Snow crunching underfoot)
Against a large house behind bare-branched trees in the snow, a caption in large lettering reads People Patterns, another reads Dreams, Myths and Memories.
(Sound of door opening)

The man coming in says HI.

A dark-haired man in his thirties in a white blouse, with a small moustache and long native pigtails, gets up holding a palette and approaches a painting showing an elder with a white beard wearing a feather headdress.

He continues for the camera and says I WAS RECENTLY
INFLUENCED BY CARL RAY.
HE DID A PRESENTATION HERE IN
WEST BAY AT THE HIGH SCHOOL,
AND I WAS FIRST INTERESTED IN
THIS STYLE, THIS STYLE OF ART
FROM HIM.
IT WASN'T UNTIL A YEAR LATER
WHEN I ATTENDED THE SCHREIBER
ISLAND PROJECT THAT'S NEAR
HERE THAT I SERIOUSLY GOT INTO
PAINTING, AND I WAS OFFERED AN
EXHIBITION IN TORONTO BY THE
DIRECTOR OF THE MANITOU ARTS
FOUNDATION, TOM PELETIER,
TO DO AN EXHIBIT AT THE
OISE BUILDING IN TORONTO.
AND THAT SHOW WAS IN 1973
AND I SOLD OUT OF THE FORTY
CANVASES THAT I HAD.

A female Narrator's voice says BLAKE DEBASSIGE, A YOUNG
SUCCESSFUL OJIBWAY PAINTER AND
CREE ARTIST SHIRLEY CHEECHOO
DEBASSIGE, WORK AND LIVE AT
WEST BAY, MANITOULIN ISLAND
WITH THEIR YOUNG SON,
NANOSHKASHEESE.

Shirley pulls a sled with her son on it through the snow.

Shirley says WELL I STARTED LIKE WITH THE
ART WORK WHEN I MET BLAKE,
I GUESS, AND WATCHED HIM DO A
LOT OF THE ARTWORK ON CANVAS
AND JUST, YOU KNOW, JUST
WATCHING HIM AND, YOU KNOW,
ONE DAY I ASKED HIM
IF I COULD TRY ONE.
AND SO HE GAVE ME A PIECE OF
CANVAS AND I DID A PAINTING.
AND I GAVE IT TO HIM AND HE
STILL HAS MY FIRST PAINTING.

Shirley, with dark curly hair and high cheekbones, stands in front of one of her paintings, a frieze of native medicine-man figures on native cloth.

The Narrator says SHIRLEY, I DIDN'T REALIZE
THAT MUSIC WAS REALLY YOUR
FIRST LOVE.

Shirley says NO.
I DON'T THINK MUSIC
WAS MY FIRST LOVE.
I THINK WRITING WAS.
AND WHEN I WAS A CHILD, LIKE
MY MOTHER TOLD ME A LOT OF
STORIES AND WHAT I DID WAS
WRITE DOWN A LOT OF THE THINGS
THAT MY MOTHER TOLD ME
AND WROTE LITTLE STORIES,
MY OWN STORIES, THE WAY
I WANTED THEM TO GO.
I DIDN'T PARTICULARLY LIKE
SOME OF THE STORIES SHE TOLD ME
BECAUSE THE ENDINGS AND THAT
MADE ME FRIGHTENED AND STUFF.
AND WHEN I WAS WRITING
STORIES, I STARTED SINGING
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, MY MOTHER
DID A LOT OF SINGING, TOO.
AND, YOU KNOW, EVERY TIME
SHE'S WORKING, DOING
SOMETHING, SHE'S
ALWAYS SINGING.
AND SO I STARTED SINGING AND
TRYING TO SING SOME OF THE
STORIES I WAS WRITING.

Blake says SHIRLEY'S STORIES WERE
WRITTEN ... HER GROWING UP ON
THE TRAPLINE WITH HER PARENTS.
SHE'S CREE BACKGROUND,
AND I'M AN OJIBWAY.
A LOT OF THE THINGS -- THE
CULTURES ARE THE SAME IN SOME
WAYS, BUT THEY'RE DIFFERENT
IN OTHERS, AND ONE OF THE
INTERESTING THINGS THAT
SHIRLEY HAS DONE AS WELL IS
ILLUSTRATE A BOOK WRITTEN BY
AN OJIBWAY, BASIL JOHNSON,
FROM THE ROM.
SO AT THAT TIME, WE WERE
WORKING ON OUR BOOK, A CREE
WRITER WITH AN OJIBWAY
ILLUSTRATOR, AND THEN AT THE
SAME TIME, SHIRLEY, A CREE
ILLUSTRATOR, WORKING WITH
AN OJIBWAY WRITER.
SO THAT WAS HAPPENING
AT THE SAME TIME.
I THINK WE DRAW FROM BOTH
OUR BACKGROUNDS, BEING OF
DIFFERENT CULTURES,
CREE AND OJIBWAY.

Shirley says WELL, EVEN RAISING OUR CHILD,
YOU KNOW, WE'RE RAISING OUR
CHILD IN TWO
DIFFERENT CULTURES.
AND, YOU KNOW, LEARNING
THE LANGUAGE, TOO.
LEARNING CREE AND
OJIBWAY, YOU KNOW.
AND IT WORKS.
[chuckling]

A man in his thirties with long dark curly hair, a small moustache and a goatee, plays a guitar.
(Guitar music)

The Narrator says LELAND BELL, ARTIST,
COMPOSER, MUSICIAN,
FROM WIKWEMIKONG
RESERVE ON MANITOULIN.

Shirley says DO YOU THINK THAT YOU COULD
WRITE MUSIC FOR -- LIKE IF YOU
LOOKED AT A PAINTING, COULD
YOU PICK OUT THE MOOD FROM THE
PAINTING AND WRITE
A MUSIC FOR IT?

Leland says YEAH, I'VE TRIED.
BUT THE MUSIC HAS BEEN
SEPARATE FROM THE ART.
IT'S NOT -- IT HASN'T
EVER MERGED, EXCEPT NOW.
YOU CAN MERGE --
I CAN MERGE IT.
LIKE TO GET THE CHARACTER.
LIKE MY PAINTINGS ARE --
THEY'RE SIMPLE AND PEACEFUL
AND STUFF.
I MEAN STUFF LIKE THAT.
SO I THINK MY MUSIC HAS TO
BE ALMOST THE SAME THING.
IT HAS TO BE PEACEFUL AND IT
HAS TO BE SIMPLE, BUT YET, YOU
KNOW, IT'S COMPLEX IN ITS ...
THE WAY IT'S BROUGHT OUT.
IN MY PAINTINGS, ANYWAY.

Shirley says WHAT ABOUT
MY PAINTINGS?
WOULD YOU -- COULD YOU SEE,
LIKE ANY ... HOW WOULD YOU SAY?
WOULD YOU BE ABLE TO
FIND MUSIC FOR THEM?
LIKE WHEN I LOOK AT MY
PAINTINGS, I THINK OF POETRY.
I DON'T THINK OF MUSIC WHEN
I LOOK AT MY PAINTINGS.
AND I DO A LOT OF MY WRITING,
YOU KNOW, FROM MY PAINTINGS
JUST FROM THE
EXPERIENCES I GET.

Leland says THERE'S A LITTLE
BIT OF DIFFERENCE.
YOU KNOW, FROM YOUR PAINTINGS,
THAN LET'S SAY FROM MY
PAINTINGS. MY PAINTINGS ARE
BASED ON MYSTERY SORT OF
THINGS ALMOST.
BUT NOT REALLY.
THEY'RE OUR REAL
LIFE SITUATIONS.
BUT I DON'T THINK SO.
MAYBE, MAYBE YOU COULD BECAUSE
A LOT OF PAINTINGS, LIKE THEY
GO BEYOND THE STORYTELLING.
THEY COULD TALK ABOUT FEELINGS
OR DREAMS AND STUFF LIKE THAT.
SO I THINK YOU COULD WRITE --
I THINK THERE'S A GOOD WAY OF
WRITING A SONG FOR ANY
PAINTING, I THINK.
YOU KNOW, IT'S JUST FINDING
OUT WHO THE PERSON IS.

Blake says MAYBE ONE APPROACH WITH
PAINTING, AS WELL AS WITH
MUSIC, YOU LEARN FROM WHAT YOU
EXPERIENCE AND THAT SONG YOU
JUST SUNG, THAT MUSIC, BIT OF
MUSIC YOU PLAYED, EXPERIENCE
SOMETHING YOU HAD FROM
CEREMONIES THAT YOU DO.
AND I THINK PAINTINGS CAN
SAY THE SAME THING ABOUT AN
EXPERIENCE THE SAME
WAY THAT A SONG COULD.

Blake works on a painting.

Blake says I'M WORKING ON A SERIES OF
PAINTINGS THAT DEAL WITH
MEDICINAL PLANTS THAT WERE
USED TRADITIONALLY FOR CURING.
AND THESE I'M STUDYING WITH
A HERBALIST FROM WIKWEMIKONG
RESERVE NAMED SAM ZOWMIK.
AND THIS PIECE HERE IS
A PAINTING OF THE BONESET.
I'VE DONE THREE OTHERS,
SWEETGRASS, WHICH IS USED IN
CEREMONIES FOR PURIFICATION,
THE JEWELWEED, WHICH IS USED
FOR POISON IVY, AND THE THIRD
IS THE EVENING PRIMROSE, WHICH
DEALS WITH CURING HAYFEVER,
POLLEN ALLERGIES, WHICH I
SUFFER FROM, WHICH IS WHY I
ORIGINALLY GOT INTERESTED
IN HERBS FOR CURING.
NATURAL CURES.
THE BONESET ARE USED MAINLY
FOR COLDS AND FLU says LIKE VIRUSES.

Shirley says MOST OF MY PAINTINGS THAT
I DO ARE MEMORIES OF MY
CHILDHOOD IN THE TRAPLINE AND
THE THINGS THAT WE DID AS
KIDS, YOU KNOW, AND THINGS
MY BROTHER WOULD SAY TO ME
AND MY YOUNGER SISTERS.
YOU KNOW, IT'S JUST THE LIFE
ON THE TRAPLINE, AND I FEEL
GOOD WHEN I DO IT
BECAUSE I CAN GO BACK.
I MEAN I DON'T WANT TO GO BACK
TO IT NOW BUT, YOU KNOW, IN
MY MEMORY I CAN GO BACK AND
SEE THOSE HAPPY TIMES THAT
I HAD ON THE TRAPLINE.
YET I THOUGHT THEY WERE
HORRIBLE THINGS, YOU KNOW,
WHEN I WAS GROWING UP IN THEM.
I DIDN'T WANT TO BE OUT THERE,
YOU KNOW, IN THE COLD AND
CARRYING WATER AND EVERYTHING.
MAKING FIRE AND
THINGS LIKE THIS.
I DIDN'T WANT TO BE THERE,
BUT WHEN I PAINT, YOU KNOW,
IT'S SUCH A BEAUTIFUL
MEMORY THAT I, YOU KNOW...
I GUESS THAT'S WHAT I PAINT.

(Lyrical music plays)
As the song plays, artwork showing a child's life appears, with small children, all with their faces turned away.

A male voice sings and says TURN AROUND
LOOK AT THE SUN
COLD DAYS AND NIGHTS
I WAS THERE BEFORE,
AND I'M STILL YOUNG
MARBLE HALLS AND VOICES
TRY TO STEAL MY MIND,
SURROUNDED BY REFLECTIONS
OF A LIFE ON A TRAPLINE,
FORGET, I CAN'T FORGET,
TRACES IN A CHILD'S MIND
LIFE ON THE TRAPLINE.
THE SMILE OF A FATHER,
HE'LL COMFORT MY OWN
LIFE ON THE TRAPLINE,
SURVIVAL IS MINE.
FORGET, I CAN'T FORGET,
TRACES IN A CHILD'S MIND
LIFE ON THE TRAPLINE

Shirley says THE REASON WHY I DO THE
PAINTINGS WITHOUT THE FACES IS
BECAUSE, YOU KNOW, OTHER PEOPLE
CAN RELATE TO MY PAINTINGS.
AND WHEN I PAINT, I THINK OF
OTHER PEOPLE ALSO INSTEAD --
LIKE WITH THE MEMORIES.
LIKE I DO HAVE IN A TRAPLINE,
BUT I KNOW THAT THOSE THINGS
DO HAPPEN NOW, BECAUSE THEY
DO HAPPEN WITH MY SON AND I,
WHEN I, YOU KNOW, WHEN
I GO OUT WITH HIM AND WHEN
HE GOES OUT WITH BLAKE.
YOU KNOW, THERE'S THINGS THAT HE
COMES HOME AND HE SAYS THINGS.
SO I PICK OUT THESE SAYINGS
AND DO PAINTINGS WITH
THOSE SAYINGS.

The woman who appeared in outline at the beginning, sews a brown native blanket. She has curly gray hair in a bob and wears a beige cardigan.

The Narrator says LILLIAN CHEECHOO TRAVELS
18 HOURS BY BUS TO VISIT
HER DAUGHTER, SHIRLEY, AND
HER FAMILY AT WEST BAY.
WHEREVER SHE TRAVELS, HER
HANDWORK GOES WITH HER.
THE DESIGNING OF DECORATIVE
CLOTHING IS LILLIAN'S LATEST
ACHIEVEMENT, BUT FOR NEARLY
FORTY YEARS HER ARTISTRY HAS
BEEN EVIDENT IN THE CREATION
OF ARTIFACTS MADE OF MOOSE
HIDE AND DECORATED
WITH BEADWORK.

Native fringed moosehide boots and mocassins appear. Other examples of her handicraft appear, including fur-lined slippers and tote bags.

Lillian's voice says NOBODY TEACH ME HOW TO DO IT.
I JUST LEARN FROM MY MOTHER.
MY MOTHER USED TO, YOU KNOW,
WORK ON IT, AND MY FATHER USED
TO MAKE A STOVE WITH A
DRUM IN IT, 45 GALLON DRUM.
HE CUT IT IN HALF.
HE MADE A HOLE IN THERE WHERE
WE CAN MAKE FIRE, YOU KNOW,
PUT MATCHES IN.
MY MOTHER USED TO SIT THERE
DOING OUR WORKING IN THE
DARK, AT NIGHT.
WE USED TO TELL HER, NO,
YOU DON'T DO THAT.
YOU GOING TO GET BLIND
BEFORE YOU REACH 60.
THAT'S WHAT SHE -- THAT'S
WHAT HAPPENED TO HER.
SHE WAS BLIND.
AFTER MY FATHER DIED, SHE
WAS BLIND FOR 11 YEARS.
AND SHE... SHE WENT
IN HOSPITAL IN TORONTO
AND SHE HAD AN OPERATION.
BUT SHE DIED WHEN
SHE WAS 96 YEARS OLD.
[laughing]

Blake says I DRAW FROM A TRADITIONAL ART
FORM, THE USE OF PICTOGRAPHS,
WHICH IS A WRITING WITH
PICTURES BASICALLY.
EACH PAINTING SAYS SOMETHING
AND RATHER THAN USING WORDS,
IT USES A FORM OF PICTURES.
THAT'S WHERE I
ORIGINALLY STARTED FROM.
I'VE STUDIED THESE
PICTOGRAPHS, THESE ROCK
PAINTINGS, BIRCHBARK SCROLLS,
AND WHAT I'VE DONE IS I'VE
EMPLOYED THIS LANGUAGE, THIS
LANGUAGE OF ART TO SAY
WHAT I WANT TO SAY.
I ORIGINALLY STARTED PAINTING,
ILLUSTRATING LEGENDS, FOLKLORE.
THAT WAS A PROGRESSION.
NOW I DEAL WITH MORE
CONTEMPORARY THINGS.
ONE OF THEM IS THE
LANGUAGE QUESTION.
EVEN THINGS THAT HAPPEN ON THE
RESERVE WITHIN MY FAMILY, LIKE
THE DEATH OF MY GRANDFATHER,
THE THINGS THAT HAPPEN WITH
EVENTS LIKE THAT, I TRIED TO
PUT DOWN IN PAINTING FORM.
AND THE INTERESTING THING
ABOUT THAT IS THAT I'LL DO A
PAINTING WITH A SPECIFIC
MEANING, AND THAT PAINTING MAY
BE HANGING SOMEWHERE AND
OTHER PEOPLE WILL SEE IT.
AND WHAT'S VERY REWARDING FOR
ME IS THAT PEOPLE WILL GET A
MESSAGE FROM THAT PAINTING,
BUT IT'S NOT ALWAYS THE
MESSAGE I WAS
TRYING TO BRING OUT.
BUT THEY READ SOMETHING ELSE
FROM THEIR EXPERIENCES,
WHICH IS ALSO VERY MEANINGFUL
FOR ME WHEN THEY RELATE
THOSE STORIES.
IT'S SOMETHING I DON'T SEE
THAT THEY POINT OUT TO ME,
WHICH IS SATISFYING
IN MY WORK.
I'M WORKING ON A MURAL RIGHT
NOW THAT WILL GO TO THE
TYENDINAGA MOHAWK BAND
IN DESERONTO, ONTARIO.
THE MURAL WILL DEAL WITH
THE LANDING OF THE MOHAWKS
AT THE BAY OF QUINTE.
THEY'RE CELEBRATING THEIR 200th
ANNIVERSARY THIS YEAR, AND THIS
MURAL FOR THE DESERONTO BAND
WILL MEASURE 8 FEET BY 24 FEET.
AND IT'LL BE BASICALLY A
HISTORICAL PIECE DEALING
WITH THAT LANDING.

As a long clip shows pieces of the semi-abstract artwork, native music plays.
(Native chants and guitar music)

Blake says TO ME, DREAMS ARE LIKE...
LIKE ANOTHER WORLD.
THERE'S MESSAGES THAT
YOU GET FROM THESE DREAMS.
SOMETIMES THEY'RE PROPHECIES.
SOMETHING YOU DREAM THAT
ACTUALLY DOES HAPPEN IN THE
FUTURE, AND I THINK A LOT OF
PEOPLE HAVE THAT EXPERIENCE.

Shirley says I LOOK AT MY DREAMS AS
MESSAGES TOO, AND, YOU KNOW,
WHEN WE TALK ABOUT THEM IN THE
MORNING, WE TRY TO ANALYZE
OUR DREAMS.
A LOT OF TIMES WE DON'T KNOW,
YOU KNOW, WHAT OUR DREAMS MEAN.
AND BLAKE PICKS THEM
UP BY PAINTING THEM.

The Narrator says ONE OF SHIRLEY'S STORIES...
LISTEN TO THE CHILD ...
ILLUSTRATED BY BLAKE,
BECAME THE BASIS FOR A
THEATRE WORKSHOP AND STAGE
PRODUCTION BY THE STUDENTS
OF LAKEVIEW PUBLIC SCHOOL.
THE SCHOOL'S SUCCESSFUL
APPLICATION FOR A GRANT MADE
IT POSSIBLE FOR THEM TO HIRE
SHIRLEY TO RUN A THEATRE ARTS
PROGRAM, A ROLE SHE HAS PLAYED
VOLUNTARILY FOR YEARS AS A
CONTRIBUTION TO HER COMMUNITY.
NOW, THE GRANT FROM THE
ARTISTS IN THE SCHOOLS PROGRAM
ALLOWS SHIRLEY TO DEVOTE
SEVERAL WEEKS OF PATIENT AND
PROFESSIONAL GUIDANCE
TO THE PROJECT.

Children appear on stage dressed in native costume.

The Narrator continues THIS EARLY REHEARSAL GIVES AN
INDICATION OF GROWTH TOWARDS A
SUCCESSFUL PERFORMANCE.

Shirley leads and says I HAVE CHOSEN.

A child's voice says I HAVE CHOSEN MY WAY AND IT
IS WITH THE ANIMALS I BELONG.

Another says PLEASE, KLASKUS,
I'LL MISS YOU.
CAN I COME WITH YOU?

Another says MOTHER, FATHER
HAS FALLEN ASLEEP.

Shirley says LIGHTS OUT.
YOU GUYS GO
IN YOUR WIGWAM.
SOMEBODY GIVE THEM THE
BLANKETS AS SOON AS POSSIBLE
AND TAKE THE POT AND
THE CUP OFFSTAGE.
THAT HAS TO HAPPEN
VERY QUICKLY, OKAY?
SO BE PREPARED.

The children run around the stage getting things ready.

The Narrator says THE MAKING OF SETS, COSTUMES
AND MASKS IS JUST AS IMPORTANT
AS LEARNING LINES, AND ALL THE
POTENTIAL YOUNG ACTORS TAKE
ACTIVE PART.

Children sit at a table with Blake and Shirley.

One says WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?
WHAT AM I SUPPOSED
TO BE MAKING?

Shirley says A BEAR.
AND THAT'S A BEAR.
THAT'S A BEAR.

Shirley says THIS IS A DEER
AND THAT'S A BEAR.

A child says WHERE'S THE BEAVER?

Blake says WHERE'S THE BEAVER?
WHERE'S THE AMIK?

A child says THE BEAVER IS HERE.

Another says NO, BECAUSE I MADE THE...

Another says I'LL DO A BEAVER.

Blake says ALL RIGHT.
THIS IS THE BEAVER.
THERE YOU GO.

Blake hammers nails into a wooden frame.
[hammering]

A man says WE'LL TAKE THAT AND PUT
THE EXCESS INTO THE PAIL,
AND WE'LL LET
THAT DRY A BIT.
THAT'S IT.

A child says THAT DOESN'T LOOK
TOO GOOD OVER BROWN.

Blake says NO, YOU HAVE GET
IT REALLY DARK.
I WANT A DARK GREEN ALONG THE
TOP, ALL ALONG THE TOPS, OKAY?
DON'T WORRY TOO MUCH
ABOUT THE BOTTOMS.
CLEAN THIS UP A BIT.
IT'S TOO -- IT
HAS TO WAVE BACK. OKAY?
SO CONCENTRATE ON THE TOPS OF
THOSE TREES AND THE BRANCHES.

A child says DO YOU WANT THAT DARKER?

A long log outhouse appears. A sign reads Kasheese Studios.

Blake says THE REASON WHY WE BUILT THE
GALLERY OR PUT IT IN WAS THAT,
NUMBER ONE, WE DIDN'T HAVE
AN OUTLET FOR OUR WORK IN
NORTHERN ONTARIO.
AND ALSO TRIED TO INTRODUCE
NEW ARTISTS FROM THE ISLAND IN
OUR GALLERY AND PROVIDE AN
OUTLET AND SUPPORT FOR THESE
OTHER ARTISTS.

(Native songs)

The Narrator says ONE OF THE ARTISTS WHO MAKES
USE OF THE KASHEESE GALLERY IS
LELAND BELL, WHOSE
INTERPRETIVE MUSIC CAPTURES
THE ESSENCE OF HIS OWN ART.

Samples of Blake's artwork appear.

Leland Bell sings and says
SOMEWHERE IN THE
MEMORY, UP IN THE SKY,
THE NIGHT WAS SET FREE
AND THE DAY WAS MINE,
SITTING IN THE SILENCE
SEARCHING FOR TIME,
WITH A HEART AND A MIND,
LOCKED AWAY IN HORIZON
LISTEN TO HER DAWN,
SEARCHING THE SILENCE,
WHISPERS IN THE WIND
OF HEARTBEAT'S SONG,
TAKE A HOPE OF SOME LIGHT
AND A QUIET WHISPER
SECRETS TO REMEMBER,
A ROAD INSIDE.

A gray station wagon starts out on a trip.

The Narrator says SHIRLEY AND BLAKE LEAVE WEST
BAY FOR A TWO-HOUR DRIVE TO
SUDBURY TO CATCH AN EVENING
FLIGHT TO TORONTO FOR THE
PRESS CONFERENCE AND OFFICIAL
OPENING OF THE EXHIBITION
ENTITLED, NORVAL MORRISSEAU
AND THE EMERGENCE OF THE IMAGE
MAKERS AT THE ART
GALLERY OF ONTARIO.
BLAKE, BEING ONE OF
THE YOUNG IMAGE MAKERS.
MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA AND THE
SIX EXHIBITING ARTISTS ARE
WELCOMED BY A.G.O. DIRECTOR
WILLIAM WITHROW.

Standing at a podium in front of a painting by Blake, gray-haired Withrow says
THIS EXHIBITION IS AN
EXAMINATION OF THAT UNIQUE
ASPECT OF CONTEMPORARY
CANADIAN CULTURE LOOSELY
DEFINED AS ONTARIO WOODLAND ART.
PERSONAL AND SCHOLARLY
INTERESTS PROMPTED THE ART
GALLERY OF ONTARIO'S CURATOR
OF CANADIAN HISTORICAL ART,
DENNIS REID, WHO'S WITH US
THIS MORNING, TO APPROACH TWO
AUTHORITIES IN THE FIELD
OF INDIAN ART IN ONTARIO,
ELIZABETH McLUHAN, CURATOR OF
THE CENTRE FOR INDIAN ART IN
THUNDER BAY, AND TOM HILL,
MUSEUM DIRECTOR AT THE
WOODLAND INDIAN CULTURAL
EDUCATION CENTRE IN BRANTFORD.
TOGETHER THEY HAVE SELECTED
THE WORKS, AND AUTHORED A
COMPANION BOOK.
NOW I'D LIKE YOU TO MEET
ELIZABETH McLUHAN AND TOM HILL
AND HEAR SOMETHING ABOUT THE
ART AND ARTISTS IN THIS SHOW.
TOM, WOULD YOU
TAKE OVER FOR ME?

Tom Hill, in his forties with short black hair, ascends the podium and says GOOD MORNING.
LIKE THE PAINTING, HOMAGE TO
MORRISSEAU, THIS EXHIBITION,
IN A SENSE, PAYS TRIBUTE TO
ONE MAN'S INVENTIVE GENIUS IN
CREATING THE WHOLE STYLE
OF PAINTING, STYLE OF ART.
THAT STYLE OF PAINTING HAS
BEEN TAKEN AND WORKED AND
ADOPTED BY A NUMBER OF
VERY TALENTED IMAGE-MAKERS OR OTHER ARTISTS.
THEY HAVE ALWAYS BEEN VERY
TRUE TO THE ETHOS OF THEIR
COMMUNITY, AND THAT HAS BEEN
VERY DIFFICULT, BECAUSE IT HAS
BEEN AN ART THAT HAS NOT BEEN
PRIMARILY CREATED FOR THAT
COMMUNITY, BUT HAS BEEN
CREATED FOR THE MARKET HERE
IN THE SOUTH.
IT'S KIND OF A NICE FEELING
TODAY, TO SEE THAT THE ART
GOES ONE FULL CIRCLE BECAUSE
IN THOSE EARLY '60s, WHEN THESE
ARTISTS WERE NOT ACCEPTED
BY SOME OF THE COMMUNITIES
OUTSIDE THEIR OWN, AND
CERTAINLY NOT THEIR OWN,
IT'S NICE TO KNOW THAT THE
INDIAN COMMUNITIES NOW LOOK
TO THEM AND SEE THEM, AND SEE THE
CONTRIBUTION THEY ARE MAKING.
I THINK THAT'S ABOUT
ALL I CAN REALLY SAY.
I THINK WHAT YOU HAVE TO DO
NOW IS REALLY LOOK AND SEE
EXACTLY WHAT THESE
PEOPLE ARE SAYING. THANK YOU.
[applause]

Shirley stands talking with Blake and another woman in her forties.

Shirley says CURATOR ELIZABETH McLUHAN.

In off, Elizabeth says YES, WE FEEL THE YOUNG
PAINTERS, PEOPLE WHO'VE BEEN
WORKING FOR ABOUT TEN YEARS,
REPRESENT A WHOLE NEW CYCLE.
YOU SEE THE ARTIST NOW
PRODUCING WORKS PRIMARILY FOR
THE INDIAN COMMUNITY AND
HAVING FAR MORE OF A CLOSER
RELATIONSHIP WITH THE INDIAN
COMMUNITY THAN, SAY, TWENTY
YEARS AGO, WHEN MORRISSEAU WAS
PRODUCING IT PRETTY STRICTLY
FOR A WHITE ART MARKET.
BLAKE'S WORK IS VERY UNUSUAL.
HE'S ONE OF THE FEW YOUNG
ARTISTS TO GO FOR COMMISSIONS.
AND THE IDEA OF COMMISSIONS
MELDS A TYPE OF PATRON AND PUBLIC.
IT MEANS YOU HAVE NOW
A FAR MORE REFINED PUBLIC.
YOU HAVE MORE INTERACTION
BETWEEN THE ARTIST
AND THE PUBLIC.
AND I THINK THE QUALITY OF HIS
WORK IS REFLECTED IN HOW
HE RISES TO THE OCCASIONS OF
COMMISSIONS, WHICH ARE USUALLY
QUITE NARROW IN THEIR
SCOPE AND VERY DEMANDING.
AND THE REAL TEST OF AN ARTIST
IS HOW THEY CAN EXPAND,
GIVEN THE LIMITATIONS
OF A COMMISSION.
SO I THINK TWO THINGS.
I THINK THE INDIAN COMMUNITY
IS FAR MORE OF A SIGNIFICANT
AUDIENCE, AND THAT THE WHOLE
AREA OF CORPORATE AND PRIVATE
COMMISSIONS NOW IS A NEW AREA
THAT BLAKE HAS CERTAINLY
PIONEERED A LOT
AS A YOUNG ARTIST.

Blake stands looking at a painting of his with Withrow, who says
THESE PAINTINGS HERE --

Blake says I'M GLAD THAT THEY'VE FINALLY
GIVEN THE WOODLAND SCHOOL
OF ART A CHANCE TO -- A
RECOGNITION, I GUESS, IS
THE BEST WORD FOR IT.
I THINK NOW IT'S PAYING
HOMAGE TO NORVAL MORRISSEAU,
BUT IT'S ALSO RECOGNIZING THE
OTHER ARTISTS INVOLVED AND,
IN PARTICULAR, THE YOUNGER
GENERATION TO SHOW THAT
THERE IS THAT CONTINUING
PROCESS THAT -- SORT OF A LIVING
CULTURE AND THE YOUNGER
GENERATION OF ARTISTS IS
LIVING PROOF OF THAT.
FOR MYSELF AND SHIRLEY, I
THINK WE REPRESENT THE CULTURE
OF WHAT I CALL THE ANISHINAABE
PEOPLE, OR THE OJIBWAY PEOPLE,
THE CREE PEOPLE.
THE FACT THAT THE
CULTURE IS STILL ALIVE.
OUR ART WILL CONTINUE TO
REFLECT THE CHANGES THAT THE
CULTURE GOES THROUGH AND I
THINK WITH ANY RACE OR ANY
NATION OF PEOPLE, THE ART
CERTAINLY IS A SORT OF A
MIRROR OF THAT CULTURE, AND AS
LONG AS THAT CULTURE SURVIVES,
THE ART WILL SURVIVE.

Explaining a painting of a pointed cross on a gray background to a group of three people, Blake says FATHER, SON, HOLY GHOST WITH
THE THREE CIRCLES AND THEN THE
OWL AND THE TWO
BIRDS ON EACH SIDE.
THE SAME THING AGAIN.
THAT TRIANGLE.
THAT'S THE OWL FOR
MAN'S IMMORTALITY...

The End Credits roll.

Artists, Shirley Cheechoo, Blake Debassige, Leland Bell.

Original Music Written and Performed by Leland Bell.

Cinematographer, Robert Brooks C.S.C.

Camera Assistant, Ryan McMaster

Sound Recordist, Douglas Ganton.

Telecine Transfer, Guy Nason.

Videotape Editor, David Bevan.

Unit Manager, Rodger G. Lawson.

Production Assistant, Mary Louise Lynde.

Producer-Director, Joan Reed-Olsen.

A Production of TVOntario. 1984.

Blake continues ... THE FACT THAT WE
DON'T LIVE FOREVER.
WE LIVE AND WE DIE.

(Fade out)

Watch: Dreams, Myths, and Memories