Rabble Rouser Of The Month: Dorman Dorey

I think it’s natural to want to trace things back to their origins. It’s why when you first meet a couple you inevitably ask, “How did you meet?” There’s something wistful about being able see how trivial ‘whatevers’ can lead to the defining changes of our lives.

The “Rabble Rouser of the Month” for June, is someone I wouldn’t have planned to know anything about. He appeared on my radar when a 2010 trip to Prague led to an article, which led to the need for a picture for the article, which led to a Google image search, which led me to the Grumpy Goat Gallery, which led me to meeting (digitally) Cara and Pam, discovering their art and then featuring them and their work on the website.

In one of the interview questions about their “favorite” pieces was inspired by Pam’s Grandfather, or Poppy.

When I asked,  “Do both of you have a piece that you feel encapsulates your mission as an artist?” They responded with:

We made a sculpture ‘The Sealers Song’, which was based largely on the experience of my grandfather.  He had the great responsibility of feeding and providing for a wife and 10 children. One of his many jobs was sealing. I know that there has often been, and continues to be, much controversy surrounding the seal hunt.  That said, in my grandfather’s day, he hunted for seal and would then trade the pelts with Norwegian sailors for flour, sugar and other necessary provisions to aid in surviving the upcoming winters.  

(He would also use the remainder of the seal for food and oil)  The sculpture we made shows the sealers crammed into a boat, heading out to the ice with looks of resignation on their faces.  Sealing was never an easy task and many men lost their lives on the ice, so for a young man to risk his own for the sake of his family was, in my opinion, a very brave thing for the men to do and I was pleased to be able to create a piece that represents a piece of my grandfathers journey.

So yes, Pam’s grandfather clubbed seals (maybe even baby ones), but this was back in the day, when people were doing things like clubbing the Dodo Bird into extinction for fun. Pam’s grandfather clubbed seals to survive.

And though he’s passed away, his influence still clearly lives on in Pam’s life, and her work, and by extension Pam’s partner in crime Cara, and in a very small way in your life. Because if you are reading this words, a little drop of his influence has landed on you.

Sealing wasn’t an easy job. In reading a bit about it, it makes the fisherman on “The Most Dangerous Catch” seem like they are taking Gondola rides in Venice. This was a job for burly, bearded, men willing to risk their lives in icy, forgotten waters to provide for their families. That’s Rabble Rousing. That’s why Pam’s Poppy, Dorman Dorey, (what a name!) is our Rabble Rouser of the Month.

Pam and Cara created another piece based on Dorman for the Craft Council of Newfoundland and Labrador called Dorman Dorey rides again. In their own words:

We made this piece just as he was about to be moved into a nursing home where he would live out the remainder of his life.  The move itself was the inspiration for the piece as we knew this would likely be his last, and was sort of an homage to him and his life – however happy or sad it may have been.  So, the premise of the piece, as best as I can explain, was sort of at how over the course of his life he must have, on many occasions, had a ‘big one’ on his line and felt some excitement when he felt the pull on his line.  When we made the piece – as he was about to ‘ride again’- I hoped that somewhere inside of himself he knew that the big one was just beneath the surface and that he felt a little excitement at the tug of the beginning, the end or the beginning of the end…whichever he had resigned himself to. 

Having risked his life on the sea and on the ice for so much of his life, with the sole purpose of providing for his family, he was a very courageous man who lived to be 95.  Not many who lived similar lives were as lucky.