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Drawing-up enjoyment
Naujaat welcomes annual Kivalliq Inuit Art Camp

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services
Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The annual Kivalliq Inuit Art Camp is coming to a close today after a successful 10-day run in Naujaat.

NNSL photograph

Art teacher Rob Saley is watched closely by Belinda Mapsalak as he does a water colour landscape demonstration during the Kivalliq Inuit Art Camp in Naujaat this past week. - photo courtesy of Paul Mantrop

The camp, mainly funded by the Kivalliq Inuit Association (KIA), ran in Naujaat from June 26 to July 5, with 23 students from communities across the region being instructed by art teachers Paul Mantrop, Rob Saley and Andrew Qappik.

Mantrop said the camp got off to a really good start during its first week.

He said Naujaat is a beautiful community and the ice still being in the bay was something quite special to come back up North and see.

"We were really excited to be in Naujaat for Canada Day, with activities scheduled to go on all day," said Mantrop.

"The students have been really good and they all had two or three paintings, or more, on the go after their fourth day."

The first day featured Saley offering a portrait demo, followed by Mantrop's landscape demp on day two with Qappik covering stencils on the third day.

"I find the students really show-up to work in the smaller communities and put in a really nice effort," said Mantrop. "The talent's here in Naujaat, and the students did some really excellent work."

Mantrop said the first few days, the teachers took the students through gesture drawings and other simpler exercises to get a sense of the skill levels among the group.

He said the talent at the camp this year was really strong, which didn't surprise him as the group was a mixture of students from Baker Lake, Rankin Inlet, Whale Cove, Arviat and Naujaat.

"I didn't know the exact number until we came-up here, but we ended-up having $7,000 donated for art supplies from the art show fundraiser we held down in Toronto recently," he said.

"That was excellent because we were able to get easels for the tables, more paint and canvas, a really nice quality of papers for Andrew's stencilling," said Mantrop.

Each student also left with a gift box of art supplies.

"The number-one thing we heard in Whale Cove this past year was that they couldn't get any of the art supplies we were using in the camp, or they'd have to order them from somewhere in the south and wait forever for them to arrive," he said. "So we organized these acrylic kits for them, with brushes, pencils, erasers and a drawing pad each to allow them all to carry on."

Mantrop said he and Saley really liked having two elders in the course again this year, because it's a nice balance to have the elders and youths all working together.

He said he knows they're onto a good day when it's really quiet, because everyone is focused, having fun and have their heads totally into their art.

"I find, most of the time, the students choose subjects that are familiar to them and some of them will work from their imagination, although we always encourage them to only work from original photos," he said.

"We tell them they can't bring anything from National Geographic in and we don't encourage hockey logos, inuksuit or ulus. That's all standard stuff you see coming out of students if you just leave them to themselves."

Students were able to use a camera belonging to the KIA to snap their own photos for inspiration as well.

Mantrop said the community embraced them just like Whale Cove did the previous year, with everyone being very hospitable and kind.

"Rankin Inlet, where we held the camp for a number of years, is a lot bigger place now and it has a lot more distractions," Mantrop said.

"We always found it a bit of a challenge, when it was just a youth camp, to keep them all together, working in the program, happy and focused. But when we come to the smaller communities, we have a mixed-age group and they all work together well."

Fellow teacher, Saley, said it was fantastic to be in Naujaat with the midnight sun and some incredibly motivated and talented students.

"One night, I was out doing a painting in front of the house at about 11 o'clock at night," he said "And every five minutes I looked up I had another five kids around me, so the deck was soon bursting with kids."

Saley said the teaching area in the community hall is a wonderful space: roomy with nice natural light flooding most of the area.

"I'm glad they started moving the camp around to different communities this past year because, as an art teacher, it's certainly nice to get to know new communities and students," he said.

"I think all 430 people in Whale Cove came out, including the mayor, to our art show during the last day of our camp this past year.

"Naujaat has a similar feel in the sense they're all thrilled to have us here and to be hosting the annual Kivalliq Inuit Art Camp.

"There are so many distractions for our students in Rankin Inlet but here - maybe because there's less people or maybe because there's not quite as many things to do - they're incredibly focused and just a joy to teach."

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