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DAWSON CREEK, B.C. — An art piece with an interesting medium is on display at Dawson Creek Cannabis — a coffin with cow placentas encased in glass.

Emilie Mattson, a local artist, completed the standard-sized coffin piece in 2014, which is now on display in the cannabis store in Dawson Creek.

The treasure box by Emilie Mattson (Matthew Rivard, Dawson Creek Cannabis)
The treasure box by Emilie Mattson (Matthew Rivard, Dawson Creek Cannabis)

The name, The Treasure Box, came to her from her granddaughter, she explained, when Mattson’s grandmother Mary passed.

“It was a very tiny little funeral, it was just the family, but [my granddaughter] was skipping around… flipping [a rose] around… and [saying] ‘I know where grandma Mary is,'” she explained.

“‘She’s in the treasure box.’ That triggered the whole thing. I don’t call it a coffin; I call it the treasure box.”

Mattson said she has been living on a farm in Rolla with her husband since they were 20 years old and has been creating art since she was a child.

draft horses - early work from Emilie Mattson. (Supplied)
Draft horses – early work from Emilie Mattson. (Supplied)

The 75-year-old artist said she came across placentas as a medium through her work on the farm.

“You still get that artsy part of your soul; you kind of wanna do something,” Mattson said.

While working on the farm, she noticed how the placenta caught the light and dried like leather.

“I saw the light bulb behind it when we were working with a cow, and I said, ‘oh, it’s translucent; it looks like glass,'” Mattson said.

She learned to make the brine she treated the placentas with through taxidermists over the phone.

The Treasure Box was not the first time she used placentas in her art. In 2001, she created a piece called, Hanging Out The Wash, using wire, placenta, leaves, twine, clothespins, and wax.

hanging out the wash - Emilie Mattson
Hanging Out The Wash. (Emilie Mattson)

Hanging Out The Wash was displayed in the CBC building in 2001.

“That took a bit of a stir because people didn’t know what it was until they read the statement on the floor,” she explained.

Mattson continued using placentas moving forward.

Another piece she created using a wheelchair, a broken teacup, placentas, a mirror, a crystal and glass is called, The Wheelchair, and is about her mother.

“That had an impact because it was about losing your ability to talk,” she explained.

She said she doesn’t create art for the money, which allows her to do what she wants.

“It keeps me afloat to think that my [art] is still out there someplace; it makes me feel good,” Mattson said.

More of Mattson’s art can be viewed on her website, run by the former executive director of the Peace Liard Regional Arts Council, Donna Kane.

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Shailynn Foster

Shailynn Foster is a news reporter for Shailynn has been writing since she was 7 years old, but only recently started her journey as a journalist. Shailynn was born and raised in Fort St. John and she watches way too much YouTube, Netflix and Disney+ during the week while playing DND on the weekends.