This post is another in my series about the Haida Heritage Centre. I often find more interest in the back rooms and obscure corners of museums than in the main exhibits, which is probably a bit perverse on my part, but comes from years of hanging around the places. Many years ago I worked in a museum and one of the most interesting things I found to do, other than (or perhaps rather than) my own work, was to watch model maker extraordinaire John Smyly doing his exacting and extremely precise work on the model of the Haida village of Skedans now on display in the Royal BC Museum in Victoria. The research that John put into that model was published, in part, as a book about Skedans.
Thus it was with considerable interest that I found this model, which I think is left over from the original museum exhibits before this new building was constructed. This model is in a plexiglass case, parked in a hallway that leads to the carving shed. The cover is cracked open, and parts of the case are held together with duct tape. Even so, the model looks to be in good condition. It is of the village of Skidegate, as it would have been in probably the 1860’s to 1880’s and based on photographs of that period, like this one, this one, and this one (which looks as if it has a picture of a model in the middle frame – perhaps even this model?). Skidegate is now a vigorous modern Haida town located just around the corner from the Museum.
These shots are all peeks through the plexiglass which was very brightly lit and reflective from nearby windows so I had to choose my angles carefully. One shot is partly through the crack in the plexiglass.
Going to museums is a way of peeking into the past so I found it rather poignant to see this broken down old exhibit, a piece of the museum’s own past, languishing in the hall, and to discover that I could only view it partially and from the right angle and that the best glimpses were through a narrow crack in the plexiglass, from one end only. It is also seemed quite appropriate that by manipulating the images I could bring a bit more clarity, not bringing things more into focus, but sharpening them in various ways to make them more understandable. This is a similar process to the role of museum curators bringing parts of the past into view through exhibits. I was only going to show one of these shots among other odd items I found lying around, but this process struck me so much like a curatorial activity, that decided to post all the shots I took.
I really like the reflections in the ‘sky’, the feeling of almost being underwater for some of these, the distant and mostly out of focus glimpses of a past way of life. I chose to shoot them all with a very narrow depth of field to give that feeling of distance and depth and to blur the edges of the story being told; blurred edges of history.
This is one of a series of eight posts about the Haida Heritage Centre, the others can be found through this link.
To view the images below in larger format, click on any of the thumbnails, navigate with the arrows and escape to return to this page.
Canon 5Dii, Canon 50mm/f1.4 lens, ISO1250, f1.4.