From July 19-22, seize the unprecedented opportunity to work alongside some of the North’s finest visual artists. The National Arts Centre (NAC) has seven specially invited artists from the Far North exhibiting and running workshops where you can try your hand at soap-stone carving, jewelry making, beading, caribou hair tufting and more under the guidance that only a master crafter can provide.
This series of half and full-day workshops are a rare opportunity to learn from these Northern artists committed to sustaining and sharing traditional practices and cultures alongside the art they create.
Brendalynn “Inuk” Trennert is the YouTube super-star of caribou hair tufting. She has been working skillfully and diligently to revive this almost lost art whereby the stiff fur-like hide of the caribou, frequently dyed to a vibrant shade, is crafted in to designs and striking works of art. The beading and jewelry workshops explore both traditional and contemporary designs while the artists share enlightening insights alongside instruction. The works of master soap stone carver John Sabourin feature in galleries across Canada and participants at his introduction workshop will, guided by his teachings, see their imagination bring stone to life.
The cost of each workshop includes materials as well as your awesome take-home creation. A full schedule of the times, dates and costs of workshops can be found online at the NAC’s Canada Scene Northern Crafters.
Here is a full run-down of the seven participating visual artists and their workshops. Get crafting Ottawa! And for those unable to participate there’s a daily Marketplace, open from 11am to 8pm, in the NAC Salon where stunning Northern art can be viewed or purchased.
Caribou Hair Tufting Workshop: Expert Brendalynn “Inuk” Trennert of the Northwest Territories, was initially inspired by a high school teacher to start tufting and, encouraged by her parents, she began her caribou hair tufting practice in 1990. Inuk, with her natural ability and enthusiasm, has helped revive an almost lost northern craft of the Northwest Territories. Participants at Inuk’s Caribou Hair Tufting workshop will be introduced to this traditional art and create their own floral broach.
Introduction to Soapstone Carving Workshop: Master Soapstone Carver John Sabourin a Dene from the Dehcho First Nation began his artistic career as a painter. John completed a Fine Arts Course with Arctic College and was then invited by legendary carver Bill Nasogaluak to apprentice at stone carving. John learned this skill by hand and even today finishes his art work using the traditional methods. John’s exclusive Introduction to Soapstone Carving workshops will enable participants to bring stone to life following his step-by-step instructions on how to cut-out and polish stone.
Beading Workshop: Beadwork and leather goods designer Lena Moosenose from the Whatì community in the Northwest Territories learned her craft from her mother, snipping old beads, as these were hard to come by at the time, from discarded moccasins and gloves. Lena continues to teach traditional beadwork to the younger generation frequently conversing with students in her mother-tongue to ensure that both language and traditional skills are preserved. “Just like sewing, we have to keep practicing so we don’t lose it.” Lena creates a variety of leather items by tanning and sewing the hides herself that she embellishes with beadwork. In Lena’s workshop, a credit card holder or change purse will be created.
Porcupine Quill Earrings Workshop and Dentalium Shell Earrings Workshop: Jewellery designer Caroline Blechert, an Inuvialuit artist, born and raised in Yellowknife, creates striking and contemporary jewelry using traditional methods and materials. “My art explores and blends my own culture with my current diverse urban surroundings. Respecting tradition and keeping it alive through art drives my creative process.” Caroline’s workshops to create Porcupine Quill or Dentalium Shell earrings will combine the ancient with the modern in both technique and design.
Birch Bark Baskets Workshop: Crafter Phoebe Punch learned by her mother’s side and has been fine-tuning her remarkable skills for 20 years. Phoebe is proud to be keeping this ancient art alive today and enjoys the creation process, gathering materials from the land, as much as she does the completion of her finished products. Phoebe will teach workshop participants how to design and make their own unique and beautiful birch bark basket.
Traditional Doll Making Workshop: Lucy Nigiyok is a master in the art of sewing. Lucy produces beautiful seal skin gloves, mitts, wall hangings and dolls as well as taking on custom client requests. Lucy has lived in the hamlet of Ulukhaktok her whole life and favours the hand sewing methods of her ancestor having yet to purchase a sewing machine. Lucy will lead an all-day Traditional Doll Making workshop that will be as much about Inuit tradition as it is about the doll with fur parka that you will create.
Jewellery Carving Workshop: Hailing from Yellowknife, Martin Goodliffe is a celebrated Northern Canadian jeweller who graduated, with honours, from the Arctic College’s “Jewellery and Metal Working” program. His work speaks fully to the arctic experience, employing a broad range of Northern motifs and incorporating a wealth of indigenous Northern materials such as Yellowknife gold, Yukon mammoth ivory, walrus ivory and buffalo horn in his jewellery designs.
For more information, including a full schedule of workshops, visit the NAC’s Canada Scene Northern Crafters.