Saturday 9 October 2010

Quail Family (1973) Norval Morrisseau

Quail Family
Norval Morrisseau
1973, acrylic on artist board, 33" x 22"

One autumn I watched Norval climb up a country fence and deliver a lengthy speech to thousands of turkeys. They were far off behind a hill in the distance. You couldn't see them except for a few heads bobbing here and there until Norval climbed the fence.

With an exhilarating haste the hoard descended down the hill at breakneck speed to greet Copper Thunderbird. I was shocked. Norval laughed. They all seemed very interested in what he had to say so he gave it his best shot. His speech included a climax and an epiphany.

Norval was euphoric about the episode for days. The turkeys had responded to him and he appreciated it immensely. Why? He knew where they were going and he felt that he had assisted in providing them safe passage. He told them not to be afraid. That they had done well. That they were beautiful and strong. That they were all great souls. That people would be better because of their gift. He told them they were special turkeys and he knew that because he was there speaking to them.

He put his great big heart around them and blessed each of them. And he kept blessing them through the Thaknsgiving holidays. Years later he would mention them as if to say, "Those were the good old days...the days when I talked to the turkeys." By sharing his sweet memory of that moment he continued to bless their short existence over and over again.

Most people eat turkey on Thanksgiving. Norval talked turkey



In a 1984 interview Norval brings up the turkeys to make a point about attitude and attention:

Once I lived out in the country where I had to walk two miles to get to a telephone. So I was walking along feeling sorry for poor old Norval and I passed a turkey farm. There must have been over 3,000 turkeys on either side of the road kept back by fences.

As I walked by, I began to be aware of the sound of one turkey after another as I walked and they conversed. I thought of St. Francis and wondered if he really talked to the animals or was it the vibrations from this magnetic force within us.

The more I thought of that the more I forgot about anything else. I just had a chat that made me more aware that we are just a molecule within a molecule in the body of God. That allowed me to forget my own radiance and that's what I'm talking about. The thoughts just stop coming into your consciousness. That's what I mean about my painting coming from somewhere else.

I'm just as simple as anyone else - and maybe more so and there isn't anything that I can't do. Wherever your imagination goes your mind is sure to follow.

Norval Morrisseau


  1. Uncle Sam in DC is now following

  2. they will probably react before the canadian govt does.