Michael Massie talks about his artwork “1771”

After a two year period, acclaimed Nunatsiavut artist Michael Massie completed a chess set, a true labour of love. The set and board is made of wavy birch, bloodwood, sterling silver and copper. Inspired by his grandmother and her love for drinking tea, Massie, a silversmith and sculptor, challenged himself to create a work where each chess piece was a functioning mini-teapot.

Feheley Fine Arts featured this work in the 2023 edition of Art Toronto. During many phone calls, documented photos, and visits to the gallery, we were able to document the long process of making the work – from concept, to sketch, to execution.

The chess set is titled 1771, referring to the arrival of the Moravian missionaries to Labrador in 1771. Over the next two centuries, the church, residential school, and community endeavoured to replace traditional Inuit cultural beliefs and practices with Christianity.

Michael Massie is a member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 2011 and was inducted into the Order of Canada in 2017. His work is found both international and national private and public collections.