Walter J. Phillips (1884-1963)
Mamalilicoola, British Columbia, 1928
colour woodcut on paper (edition: 100)
30.5 x 25.3 cm

In the unpublished manuscript, Wet Paint, (p. 104), Phillips provides the following description.

This is exactly as I saw the scene, except that the canoe on the beach replaces a log. The latter was lacking sufficient intrinsic interest to create a proper balance where it lay, or to provide a lineal check to the upward thrust of the various parts of the whole composition.

The movement has its climax in the totem-pole, which dominates the scene. Immediately above the human effigy at the base, a wolf pursues a gigantic bird, which in its turn grabs vainly at a salmon (note the eggs in its belly), a parrot, which may be an eagle, surmounts the pole and seems to urge the savage hunters to greater efforts. It is a magnificent pole and should be preserved.

Cedar logs are hollowed by burning by the Indians to make canoes; that on the beach is a fair example. The dull green growth on the bank is a mass of nettles, which grow in profusion about these villages. Cedar shakes, split from logs with the help of wedges, may be seen on the roof and wall of the middle shack, and on the side wall of the community house on the right. As for the latter building, the facade owes its construction partly to the saw-mill. It contains two imported windows.

The two figures, and the direction of their movement, are a great aid to the composition, leading the eye inevitably to the totem-pole, and correlating that with the whole foreground. They are placed at the foot of the pole within an angle, and serve also to relieve the mass of green that covers the bank, by virtue of their shapes and colour (the leader wears a red blanket and the squaw a blouse of the same hue). The two Indians have just landed from a canoe at the floating wharf — the shore end of which is visible in the foreground at the left of the picture.