STATE OF FLUX – 8 Drums & 1 Challenging Project

In July, Peter Lattimer, owner of Lattimer Gallery, mentioned that he wanted to frame a painted drum skin. It would be a trial piece for a possible show. The drum itself was 36″ in diameter, elk hide skin, and painted on both sides. The artist is Kwakwaka’wakw artist, Steve Smith Dla’kwagila.The drum was one of twelve pieces that were part of an installation at the Vancouver International Airport. Shortly after the drums were installed at the airport, fluctuating temperatures caused the hides to tighten. As a result, many of the drums were warped, split, and had cracked frames.

I started the project and in August the first framed drum was finished. Peter Latimer and the Steve Smith were very pleased with the result.They asked me to frame 15 more for a show at Lattimer Gallery called State of Flux  –Opening this Saturday, September 24 – October 8, 2011. – With 4 pieces on display concurrently at the Vancouver International Airport.

Framing the drums presented challenges that don’t often cross my table. The drum hides react to temperature changes. The hide is a tough, rigid material to work with.  The original drums, after all were beautiful objects with enough energy and soul to stand alone.The challenge for me was to preserve the drums in a way that was simple, clean and elegant. Part of the process was to cut the drum skins off of the frames. I wanted to make sure that the drums maintained some of their 3-dimensional quality.The drums speak for themselves, so the framing treatment should be minimal.
Below are some images that hopefully gives you an idea of the process, without getting into too many of the really exciting details! (Well, exciting for me anyway…)


The paintings by Steve Smith Dla’kwagila are beautiful. Framing the drums was worth all the labour involved and will always be a very memorable project for me.  It was an adventure working on them and in a sense building them their new homes. Im proud to have had a hand in this project. Please be sure to stop by Lattimer Gallery 1590 West 2nd Avenue, Vancouver, BC. The “State of Flux” show opens this Saturday, September 24 (3:00-5:00) – Until October 8.