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Northern Box Study Bird and Human design Print by John Livingston

John Livingston

Northern Box Study Bird and Human design Print by John Livingston


John Livingston Northern Box Study Circa 1875. Bird design and Human design Limited Edition Print.

“The use of steam-bent, cornered ‘upright’ storage boxes is universal on the northwest coast from Vancouver Island to Alaska. Since pre-contact the designs have evolved to become highly stylized, but very traditional layouts. It is spectacular that because these boxes were such an inter-tribal trade item the designs were intentionally rather obscure in their figurative identification as they would be appropriate for any family or clan to use no matter where you were from. My interpretation of these box designs is, that one side represents a bird or animal crest and the other side is a human form. The bird side is identified by the asymmetrical ’salmon trout’ main face eyes, large open mouth with down-swept beak-like lips, wing-like feathers below the ‘face’ and feather-like areas above the head. The opposite, or human side, is shown with human face eyes, human-like nose and mouth and human hands below the central face. The ‘chest’ area of each box design has abstract filler faces done in red form line. The old box which these designs are taken from dates from circa 1875, possibly older, and is painted in ‘native’ hand-made pigment with salmon roe base or bonding agent. There is no collection history on the box, but I would speculate that it may be Tsimshian tribe origin. The lid of the box is made from a solid slab of wood which has been hollowed and recessed into the top of the box. The oval areas on the lid represent the inlays of ‘operculum’ shells which are part of the ‘red turbaned’ sea snail. The best old boxes usually have theses inlays.”  -John Livingston

These limited edition prints titled ‘Northern Box Study. Circa 1875. Bird Design’ and ‘Northern Box Study. Circa 1875. Human Design’ by John Livingston was published in March 2004. They were hand produced by the screen-printing process. The artist was involved in the printmaking, checking the stencils and each copy in the editions. The editions each consist of: 200 signed & numbered copies, 20 Artist’s Proofs and 1 Printer’s Proof. 3 Hors de Commerce exist for each edition and are defaced; all other trial copies have been destroyed and the printing stencils obliterated. Paper: Stonehenge Cover White (rag). Paper Size 51 x 66 cm. Image Size: 46 x 59 cm. Colours: Sienna, beige and black. Numbered copies of these editions bear the Pacific Editions chop mark, excluding copies distributed by the artist. Printmaking by Pacific Editions Limited, Victoria, B.C., Canada. These designs are copyright by John Livingston, 2004. This is the only limited edition printing of these designs.

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