The Museum of Anthropology is in the process of developing an exhibit on the engraved metal work of Haida artist Charles Edenshaw and the basketry work of his wife Isabella. “Signed without Signature: Works by Charles & Isabella Edenshaw” will be shown at MOA from November 25, 2010 to October 2, 2011.
Unlike the artists of today, who engrave bracelets flat by affixing metal to wax on an engravers block, carve the desired forms, and then shape the bracelet to fit the wrist, Edenshaw and his Haida peers in the late 19th century shaped the bracelet first, and then held it their hands around a wooden form while they engraved it. By this process, the complete engraved image was never seen flat.
To help in the viewing and appreciation of the engraved work of these 19th century artists, MOA curator Bill McLennan has developed a scanning technique that presents the bracelet, which was originally engraved in the round, as a flat digital image. This format enables comparison and helps to determine individual style and chronology of production. It also allows us to create an inventory of work dispersed through museums, galleries, and private collections around the world, which can then be made accessible to researchers, community members, and the general public.
To build this inventory, we are hoping to hear from individuals who may have 19th century Northwest Coast engraved metal work, and would like to participate in this unique project by having their objects identified, and their object(s) photographed as part of the project.
It would be fantastic if you could help us reach potential participants by having Rick Cluff interview Bill McLennan, MOA Curator Pacific Northwest, who developed this innovative technique, and is also curating the upcoming exhibition. He is
available anytime through the summer. For your information the images shown here are of three bracelets by Charles Edenshaw, originally carved in the round, which have been scanned so that the engraved forms may be viewed flat.
If you have information, please contact Bill McLennan at 604.822.5950 or email@example.com.
We are very excited to be showing a number of rare and only recently-identified works by Charles and Isabella Edenshaw in “Signed without Signature,” and would love to connect with people that would enjoy sharing in the exhibit’s development and in creating valuable knowledge for generations to come. Many of Edenshaw’s bracelets have found their way into private collections here in the Lower Mainland, and in our experience, people are always excited to share their Edenshaw treasures and their stories of how they came to own them; they just need to know the opportunity is there.