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The Great Box: learning from the master (2014-)

Sometimes Indigenous community members need to repatriate the knowledge of making items, develop artistic skill to their fullest extent, and learn from ancestral teachers.


The "Great Box" project emerged from relationship development between Haida community members and Pitt Rivers Museum staff. It enabled accomplished artists Gwaai Edenshaw and Jaalen Edenshaw to work with a 19th century masterpiece for an intensive residency of one month in Oxford, UK, to replicate--down to the direction and depth of every carving stroke--as a way to learn from the master artist of the box.


I supported this project through grant writing, administration, and curatorial work including liaison across museum departments, setting up public discussions between the artists and UK audiences (including woodworking students and museum staff), and arranging shipping of the new box back to Haida Gwaii at the end of the project. Since its arrival on Haida Gwaii, the "child of the Great Box" has been used in a potlatch to hold clan regalia and has been exhibited in Haida Gwaii and Vancouver.















This project was awarded the University of Oxford Vice-Chancellor’s award for Public Engagement with Research, 2016.

Videos about the project including an interview with Gwaai and Jaalen Edenshaw are available on the project website.

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