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Talented gathering
Nunavut carvers congregate in Iqaluit

Daron Letts
Northern News Services
Published Saturday, July 10, 2010

IQALUIT - Artists from around the territory met in Iqaluit late last month and early this month for the annual Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association (NACA) art showcase.

NNSL photo/graphic

Bobby Eetuk of Coral Harbour carves a caribou antler during the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association gathering on June 30. - Daron Letts/NNSL photo

"It went really well," said carver Billy Merkosak of Pond Inlet. "Most of the artists who were there mainly sold out."

The association hosted about a dozen master carvers as well several young carvers from the Kivalliq and Baffin regions.

"Many young artists experienced a showcase of this kind for the first time," Merkosak said. "They were conversing with the master carvers a lot. When the master carvers were carving, the youth had an opportunity to watch and ask questions. It was overwhelmingly fun as well as educational for the youth.

"For the master carvers it was an opportunity to share the knowledge and techniques that can be passed on not only at the festival but in every community."

All the carvers learned about new funding options and exchanged marketing strategies. Representatives from the Canadian Art Bank attended the event and purchased carvings from every carver in attendance.

Wholesalers from Ontario and representatives from the Canada Council for the Arts and other funding agencies met with the carvers, as well.

In addition to carvers, several textile artists and printmakers also attended.

"We always have a good mix of different types of artists," said carver Jerry Ell of Iqaluit.

Ell was elected as the new NACA board chair on June 30. In past years, Ell has represented Cambridge Bay and Rankin Inlet on the board, which gives the artist insight into issues relating to all three regions in the territory.

The next NACA gathering is tentatively scheduled for early fall, Ell said. Artists are planning to gather in Iqaluit in conjunction with the Nunavut Trade Show.

"A lot of people like to go out hunting in late spring and early summer, so some artists are not able to attend the annual general meeting," he said. "On a regional basis there is more discussion of having regional events, as well. It would create more opportunities for artists to showcase their work and allow artists to get together on a regional basis and on a local level."

Ell said he hopes regional gatherings can be established to encourage more communities to establish artists associations.

"That would certainly go a long way to promote local events and issues," he said.

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