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Saturday, September 21, 2013

The Hands of Time 4 - Carrying Point Blankets

Here's the final instance of The Hands of Time sculpture series, a dozen small sculptures by Crystal Przybille that depict life-size hands engaged in activities symbolic of Victoria's past. The hands above are carrying Point Blankets, a kind of blanket that was much treasured by indigenous peoples when the Hudson's Bay Company first began to trade on this coast. The placement of this particular sculpture is very fitting; it is located on The Hudson, a building that formerly was occupied by the Hudson Bay Company store, the retail descendant of the trading giant that brought these blankets to this coast. The sculpture is on one side of the entrance to what has just opened as Victoria's new public market on the ground floor of this building. We'll have a look inside the market next week. Click The Hands of Time if you want to see all twelve of these small sculptures.

8 comments:

s.c said...

I cannot help it but by seeing this I must think at a history ,long ago learned in school, that blankets where given to the indians containing the smallpox with purpose . Of course it was not the meaning of the artist but i can't get it out of my head.

JoJo said...

Very cool. How long will the art installation stay up.

Benjamin Madison said...

@s.c. - That's a fairly well-known story but it has no basis in reality that I know of. The Hudson's Bay Co. was fundamentally a business and to kill off their trading partners (the First Nations People) would have been like killing the goose that was laying the golden eggs. The HBC was making a lot of money off the furs they were getting in exchange for their blankets and the only way to get those furs was through the native people, so it seems unlikely to me that they would want to infect them with smallpox.

@JoJo - so far as I know The Hands of Time sculptures are permanent.

Dean Lewis said...

Unfortunately there is historical substance to the stories of smallpox-laden blankets given to indigenous peoples of America. Along with the slaughter of buffalo, seen as a vital element of their greater survival.

http://academic.udayton.edu/health/syllabi/bioterrorism/00intro02.htm

Eclecticity said...

Interesting shot, however like the other comments, I too think it a tragic irony that a blanket giving warmth and comfort also brought small-pox and death to so many.

Benjamin Madison said...

Well, not to get too nit-picky but the instance referred to by Dean was not on this coast and was not perpetrated by the Hudson's Bay Co. Smallpox is a very communicable disease and did not require artificial means to spread. There is no doubt that smallpox and other diseases such as measles literally decimated the coastal populations but it seems their arrival on these shores was incidental and cannot be laid at the door of the Hudson Bay Co.

Stephanie said...

Cool!

William Kendall said...

An interesting shot, Benjamin.