This is a piece I made for Opine, a national student exhibit held held in Toronto during the TIJF (Toronto International Jewellery Festival)
It is both a pendant and functional compass. Made of sterling silver, glass from a photography lens, and a steel compass needle. I've enriched the surface inside the compass, producing a layer of white fine silver.
How has the early North American fur trade fed contemporary identity politics? How many of us have descended from the “coureurs des bois” and the First Nations? I have; but how do I now find my inner bearings, my inner voyageur?
Who knows that French explorers Pierre Esprit Radisson and Médard Chouart des Groseillers started the Hudson's Bay Company with an English royal charter? That European demand for fashionable beaver hats sparked a fierce trans-Atlantic trade where pelts were exchanged for “common” metal items such as axe heads and fishing hooks, which were in demand by aboriginal peoples?
How do we unpack this muddled history? Where does this compass lead us? Where does exploration end and society start? Maybe somewhere on the Mackenzie River? Maybe on an urban hipster's iconic striped HBC tuque?
And yet we go forward- this long swath of a nation- along the rivers and the lakes, with Chris Hadfield singing from the International Space Station, our hearts leading us north.