A handful of years ago,

I came across the above 18th century handwritten note while sorting through a bin of scrap paper at Old English Bindery in North Vancouver, BC, on the unceded traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples - sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations.  In 1773, at the time that this script was penned, these ancestral lands were void of colonial settlers, a detail that I often think of as I navigate my own sense of place here in Canada.

The artifact above is a mystical document originating from nearly 4,500 miles away, and over two centuries in the past.  When I uncovered this relic, I was working as an assistant to Richard Smart, a third-generation master bookbinder from the UK.  I held this position for a few years, all the while stowing away ideas for my own artistic practice, and holding onto this unique, macabre treasure.


In 2019, I began writing a fictional story based on the three names found in the text of the note:  Henry Newburn, Malin Sorsbie and Joshua Watson.  In 2020, I was awarded a grant for visual artists from the British Columbia Arts Council to adapt this narrative into a multi-channel video with an accompanying installation.  The project, titled, Joshua Watson’s Leg (In Four Movements), is documented within this website.

Transcript: 

this was Wrote on Sunday 24th January 1773
by Malin Sorsbie, with a Bone which was taken out of
Joshua Watsons Leg the Same Day, by Henry Newburn
Newcastle upon Tyne... End




emiliecrewe@gmail.com



I gratefully acknowledge that I live and work on the unceded, traditional territories of the Coast Salish peoples -
sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish), sel̓íl̓witulh (Tsleil-Waututh), and xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) nations.