At times, their identities were known, and at others, they were a mystery. From Indigenous, francophone or anglophone backgrounds, fishing guides were truly the heart and soul of the activity practised in Les Fourches—later renamed Matamajaw—and in Grand-Métis. They knew the rivers running through the fishing camps like the back of their hand, which helped them guide fishing enthusiasts to the best spots to catch salmon. The guides were also indispensable resources for anglers—and their biggest fans when they made the catch of the day. Fishing guides truly set themselves apart from others working on the river and garnered respect from anglers alike, appearing in photographs and letters, and receiving gifts of gratitude as well as recognition for their vast knowledge of the land and fish-finding talents. This temporary exhibition pays tribute to the many fishing guides who lived near their clients, exploring in depth their hard work, the friendships they forged with those they guided, and their knowledge of the river’s natural resources that they strived to protect. This exhibition is presented by Les Amis des Jardins de Métis in collaboration with the Site patrimonial de pêche Matamajaw, with financial support from the Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, under the program Soutien à la concertation et à l'innovation des institutions muséales.Look-à-tout, by Alexis Aubin-LaperrièreThe salmon fisherman’s arsenal contains a tool with a surprising name: the “look-à-tout.” Designed as an inverted periscope, the look-à-tout is used to locate salmon underwater when it’s impossible to see through the surface of the river.Inspired by this tool, visual artist Alexis Aubin-Laperrière created Look-à-tout by simulating a second or two of viewing salmon in a pool. Printed using the ancient Japanese technique of gyotaku, this six-frame series shows, frame by frame, three salmon in action. In the words of the artist:“The Japanese developed the practice of gyotaku as a way to inventory species, certify fishing stories (trophies), and pay homage to the nurturing sea. The oldest known and preserved fish prints date back to the early 19th century. Founded at the crossroads between art and scientific recordkeeping, this discipline meshes perfectly with my artistic approach.In this spirit, I can’t help thinking about the first time a fisherman saw a fish print. I can related to the person who was curious and motivated enough to appropriate this craft, most likely purely by coincidence: A cuttlefish caught in a net releases its ink, staining the other fish, which leave imprints on the deck of the boat. This view of the origins of gyotaku is what guides me to pursue this spontaneous method.”
The launch of both exhibitions will take place at a joint event on Sunday, June 19, at 2 p.m., at Estevan Lodge. Mark your calendars! The artist and the museum’s guides will be on hand to celebrate the debut of these temporary summer exhibitions (beverages will be served).
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