A small collection of family and community members gathered at the Lloydminster Public Library on Monday to watch Marlene Dewald present the library with one of her late mother’s prized sculptures.
“She really enjoyed having it in her possession, but I think that she would really appreciate having it so other people can see it as well,” said Dewald.
Dewald’s mother, Kay Shepherd, was an avid art collector and longtime resident of Lloydminster until her passing in 2012. The Shaman Drummer sculpture quickly became one her favourite pieces after she acquired it in 1987. Shepherd had an art collection of about 20 works.
“She just appreciated the spirituality of it. And I appreciate it because she appreciates it, but just look at it, it’s gorgeous,” said Dewald. “The strength of it, it’s solid and it’s strong, and yet there’s still some spirituality in it.” Just like her mother, she added.
Following her death, the Dewald family contacted the library about the possibility of donating a piece from Shepherd’s Inuit art collection. The sculpture’s new permanent home helps carry on a family legacy that is now generations deep.
“My grandfather started back here way back when with (Canadian Pacific Rail) and then the Lloydminster Gas Company,” said Dewald. “Just to have something from Mom up there, too, is nice.”
The donation to the library, specifically, also strengthens the connection between Shepherd and a place she loved to frequent, said head librarian Ron Gillies.
“She was one of these people that you get to recognize when they show up every week like clockwork,” he said.
For the library, the acquisition of the sculpture is a major step towards its initiative to feature more artwork.
“Just to make the place a more pleasant place,” said Gillies. “We’re working with the visual arts community to hang and put things there, so this is why we’re doing it during the Arts Without Borders week, to sort of celebrate art in all of its breadth here at the library.”
The Shaman Drummer’s main body is crafted from whalebone and sealskin, while the owl is made from caribou bone. Sealskin and wood are used for the drum and drumstick. The sculpture is 30 inches tall and weighs nearly 80 pounds.
For now, the sculpture will be enclosed in a glass case, but Gillies says the library plans to find a permanent casing that will better show off its beauty.
The Shaman Drummer was sculpted by Jimmy Jacobson in 1985. Jacobson was born in Baillie Island, off the north coast of Cape Bathurst in the Northwest Territories. He died in 1996.