In 1823, English furriers captured Demasduit’s niece, Shanawdithit, who lived in St. John’s until her death in 1829 and became legendary as the last of the Beothuk. In Shanawdithit, The Last of the Beothuk, Belmore commemoratively evokes the woman’s presence (and absence) with haunting stone sculptures of her feet and hands, rounded as if worn by water, sensuously connecting her to the land from which she was taken. These objects also suggest traces of ‘primitive’ culture, the artifact-like qualities echoing the anthropological interest Shanawdithit endured.
Heather Anderson, Rebecca Belmore: What Is Said and What Is Done, Carleton University Art Gallery in partnership with
National Gallery of Canada’s Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art, June 2013
Photo credit: Trevor Mills / Vancouver Art Gallery, Justin Wonnacott / CUAG (detail)