Week Two of the Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency
The second week of the Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency was spent learning about the relationship between Indigenous tattoo revival and land. At the most basic level our identity in North America is steeped in legislation that is designed to erase our identity and with it our rights to the very land that the nation states of Canada and the United States are inhabiting. The second is that our knowledge systems, language and visual language all come from and are informed by the land, so as I have journeyed I have always found it essential to spend time out on my territory to ground me in my place. Finally our tattoos are connected too the visual vocabulary painted and etched into the rocks of our vast territories. This is the reason I felt it necessary to take the artists involved in the Earth Line Tattoo Training Residency out onto my territory.
We took a 3 day backpacking trip hiking over 30 kilometers into the SteinValley Nlaka’pamux Heritage Park.
While in the valley I shared about the struggle that was fought to protect this amazing valley and the sacred places it contains. The cedars, the painted rocks, the medicines, the berries, and the bears.
I also shared of how this land helps to centre me, helps me to focus and I have to be out on this land at least three to four times a year, I hike over 60 kilometers a year in this valley.
While sitting along the river just past Earl’s Cabin a little bear blessed us with his presence just across the river from us and simultaneously a eagle flew overhead, what an amazing magical place.
We all had an amazing time as we hiked, cooked, filtered water and enjoyed each others company. I would like to thank my sister Kristine Wilson for joining us and sharing her knowledge with this group.
After returning from our trip into the Stein River Valley I shared some examples of taking a motif or design from a visual and material object and transferring it to a tattoo design. After this presentation the artists began working on a design inspired by their nations visual vocabulary and did a challenging exercise on transferring the symmetrical design to a forearm.
The last day of this week was spent on design development, research, catching up on other commitments and two of the artists did their first hand poke tattoos on someone other than themselves.
Both artists did an amazing job as they went through the process from consultation to stencil to application and aftercare instructions.
This was an amazing week I am so happy to see the progress and confidence that each of the artists are gaining as they mover step by step through this learning process. Tattooing is a challenging and demanding medium that requires the mastering of a complex set of skills, all essential to the healthy application of a traditional tattoo that honours our ancestors.