Thursday, November 22, 2007

"Copper Thunderbird"


A play about Norval Morrisseau premiered in Ottawa in May 2007. The production, directed by NAC English Theatre artistic director Peter Hinton from a script by Vancouver M├ętis playwright Marie Clements, uses a cast of nine performers - three of them playing Morrisseau - to tell the painter’s roller-coaster life story. Employing large doses of the surreal and the absurd, Clements has set out to capture some of the many facets of the artist once christened (by the French press, no less) “the Picasso of the North.” “I could probably write 10 more plays about Norval Morrisseau,” the gentle-voiced writer admits in a telephone interview from Ottawa, where she has been watching rehearsals. “His life as an artist and a human being is extraordinary in its scale and its passion.” In her years of researching and writing the play, Clements has come across countless anecdotes about the artist. “It’s like he’s been everywhere,” she says. “You say that you’re doing a piece on Norval Morrisseau and everybody has a story about him, whether it was in Thunder Bay or Winnipeg, or Paris or L.A. or Vancouver. And he was very different things to different people.” Befitting his elusive nature, details of Morrisseau’s birth date and place are uncertain, but most sources have settled on 1932, at or near the Sand Point Reserve north of Thunder Bay, Ont. A self-taught artist, he quit school after Grade 4 and worked as a miner, until a meeting with young Toronto art dealer Jack Pollock led to his breakthrough solo exhibition at Pollock’s gallery in 1962. Morrisseau’s unique style, adapted from traditional Anishinabe pictographs and designs, came to be dubbed the Woodland School of painting and inspired scores of other First Nations artists.

Source: "Soaring Artist" - Copper Thunderbird paints the vivid life of Norval Morrisseau by Martin Morrow - CBC

1 comment:

dwac said...

I've just picked the first post of Spirit Walker to thank you for the great work you are doing with this website. People need to have a forum to express their appreciation for Norval's contributions and to add their own voices about issues and concerns that arise from their connection with Norval and/or his art.