Drum Circle Suite

(Deluxe Queen #608)

Families of powwow dancers lit by the Northern Lights move to the rhythmic beat of the thunder drums.

ARTIST: Jerry Whitehead                   INTERIOR DESIGNER: Portico Design Group


Watching powwow dancers move to the rhythmic beat of drums is one of artist Jerry Whitehead’s strongest childhood memories. The drums are meant to replicate thunder, the sound of which moves people to come together and dance. Inspired by these two elements, the Drum Circle Suite frames Whitehead’s distinct paintings of powwow dancers within circular canvases to resemble the tops of drums. Painted in bright greens and blues, the colouration of the dancers symbolizes the Northern Lights, which are commonly seen above the prairies where Whitehead grew up. For the Aboriginal cultures of the prairies, the Northern Lights are believed to be their ancestors dancing in the sky. To illustrate this Whitehead has painted a parade of dancers encircling the suite. They dance high upon the walls as they would in the night sky and move in a clockwise rotation around the drum circle that leads their dance. The drum top canvases also symbolize the full moon, under whose watchful gaze the powwow is performed. This layered imagery in the Drum Circle Suite conveys the enchanting experience of beholding this traditional ceremony beneath the glow of a moonlit night, streaked in the colours of the Northern Lights.

In this suite the Portico Design team was initially inspired by the West Coast rainforest. With its abundance of ferns, moss, lichen and evergreen trees, a spring green palette was the best fit. These colors were incidentally the perfect complement for Jerry Whitehead’s artwork and thus the Drum Circle Suite pays tribute to two Canadian landscapes through its coloration and imagery: the West Coast and the Prairies. Pops of green on an accent wall, tiled backsplash, lamp, wall covering and bedding accessories successfully harmonize the interior design with Whitehead’s painted images. The room aims to relax and refresh guests by embodying the invigorating brightness of a blooming forest awakened from its winter slumber by spring rains.