Happy 25th birthday
Northern Images has created a global market for Northern art

by Janet Smellie
Northern News Services

NNSL (Mar 24/97) - Northern Images, one of the most successful marketing outlets for Inuit and Dene arts and crafts, celebrated its 25th anniversary last week.

Started in 1972 by the growing co-operative movement in the North, the first gallery was opened in Yellowknife. Soon, the demand for art became so high, a second retail outlet was opened in Churchill. Shops in Inuvik, Edmonton and Winnipeg were quick to follow.

Bill Lyall, president of Arctic Co-operatives Limited, says this anniversary is important because without Northern Images, marketing of Inuit and Dene works wouldn't have grown to where it has.

Now the store helps market Arctic print-collections, carvings, furs, clothing and books internationally.

This year also marks the 25th anniversary of Northern co-operatives coming together to form a federation.

"One of the most important reasons to set up that first federation was to market the arts and craft products produced by our members," Lyall said during the anniversary celebration Northern Images. "The retail arts and craft marketing arm of the co-operative movement, was established to meet that need."

Andrew Goussaurt, who was on hand for the official opening of the first Northern Images store, says it doesn't surprise him how successful the galleries have done.

"I still can remember the ribbon cutting 25 years ago, when Cape Dorset Carver Kanaganaq did the honors in Yellowknife. The gallery and the ones that followed have certainly been a great help in exposing the art from the North."

What's also important, Goussaurt adds, is that unlike other art galleries, Northern Images returns the profits to the communities where the art originated.

"There's no profits going to anyone else except to the members themselves. So when Northern Images is successful, so are the members. The artists and the people who've kept Northern Images alive should be proud of what they've accomplished."