1080 Keewatin St,
Thunder Bay, ON, P7B 6T7

Wall Pocket

A selection of beaded wall pockets from our Permanent Collection
January 9 – March 3, 2024

Some of these beaded wall pockets are more than one hundred years old. Dating to the 1920-40s they are some of the oldest works in our Permanent Collection. Beaded wall pockets are decorative objects dating to the Victorian era that were made to store household items and keepsakes. Today, various styles of new and vintage wall pockets hang in kitchens and living rooms to store everyday objects (in fact, they are a perfect size for an iPhone).

Research into this collection of handcrafted wall pockets suggests that the material and design is typical of northern Cree as well as Swampy Cree. Each pocket is beautifully detailed with floral motifs and other designs prominent in Cree and Ojibway beadwork such as circles, potentially representing berries or buds, flowing white line work, or vines, and colourful ribbons. Each holds the creative voice, stiches, and style of its maker. It is unfortunate we don’t yet have the names of the artists who beaded these pieces or cannot trace their exact provenance, but it believed these wall pockets came from bead artists who lived near York Factory, an isolated Hudson’s Bay trading post in northern Manitoba/Treaty 5, or Moose Factory, Ontario/Treaty 9.

The wall pockets in this exhibition were all created between 1920 and 1940. It is believed they were made by northern Cree and Swampy Cree artists living near York Factory, MB, and Moose Factory, ON., who have not yet been identified. They are made of either brain-tanned hide or a velvet or wool textile, with beads, thread, ribbons, and cotton.   Collection of the Thunder Bay Art Gallery, From the Estate of Mrs. Adelaide Taylor, 1987.