Whiskey Scrip

October 2019 - December 2019

Heather Shillinglaw

Opening Reception & Artist Talk with Heather Shillinglaw: Saturday October 19 1pm-3pm


Edmonton-based Métis artist Heather Shillinglaw’s installation retells her family’s oral history of her great-great-grandfather John “Old Man Jack” Norris, who, according to family stories, contracted Indigenous and Métis women to transport whiskey on Red River Carts, disguised as homesteading supplies. Shillinglaw’s beaded and quilted hide map of the Carlton Trail traces these journeys from Fort Garry to Fort Edmonton, entangled with the issuance of Métis scrip and the impacts of this smuggled alcohol.

Whiskey Scrip is inspired by historical events that took place in the 1850’s in Canada, that brought forth the expansion of the Carlton Trail. It looks at the colonial system “Scrip” and how that shaped Canada and the lives of Indigenous peoples. Shillinglaw’s mixed-media, installation-based work utilizes an artistic approach rooted in the oral histories of her family and ancestry, exploring troubled Western Canadian histories within the collections and archives of prominent Canadian museums.

Heather Shillinglaw is an Edmonton-based Métis artist whose practice focuses on storytelling, nature and the traditional use of plants and flowers. Shillinglaw holds a BFA from the Alberta College of Art and Design in Calgary and her work has been shown across Alberta and internationally, including a recent solo show Buffalo Girl at the Art Gallery of Grande Prairie featuring three distinct bodies of work. Shillinglaw has described herself as an ‘environmental activist’ and explores her Métis heritage inspired by stories from her grandparents and her mother, using beading, collage and installation.

This project is supported by funding from the Edmonton Arts Council, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, and the Canada Council for the Arts.