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Inuvik carver Fred Trimble carved this piece, called Faces of the Shaman, in 1987. Made of whale vertebrae and soapstone, the carving symbolizes the stone and bone theme at this year's Great Northern Arts Festival.

Carver's work symbolizes Inuvik festival theme

Daron Letts
Northern News Services

Inuvik (July 11/05) - The 17th annual Great Northern Arts Festival will showcase "things of bone and stone" later this month.

The festival theme is symbolized by a whalebone and soapstone sculpture carved by Inuvik artist Fred Trimble in 1987, titled Faces of the Shaman.

"We were looking for something that incorporated both stone and bone and we came across images of Fred Trimble's carvings and were amazed by his work," said the festival's artistic director, Christina Wilsdon. "There are many artists across the Arctic who carve in stone and bone, but this carving was ideal because it combined both materials in one piece."

Trimble's carving features a whale vertebrae with two soapstone faces peering out of either end. A jovial Inuit face carved from black and brown soapstone smiles from one side. An ugly face with large soapstone eyes and a beak stares out the other end.

Trimble's father, former bush pilot Lyle Trimble, picked up the bone somewhere on his travels.

"My father always encouraged me to do art," Trimble said. "He bought me my first paint and carving tools."

When Trimble first picked up a carver's knife, he worked on caribou antlers because at that time soapstone wasn't as accessible in the Western Arctic, he said.

Later, Trimble went on to create an 1,800-lb carving of a hunter and kayak in soapstone.

He carves soapstone polar bears, walruses, snowy owls and Inuit hunters and mothers and is recognized for incorporating antler and bone into much of his work.

He is best known for his detailed muskox pieces. He carves the horns from moose antler. They are displayed in galleries in Ottawa, Toronto, Quebec and Montreal.

His current project is an Arctic char in soapstone with moose antler fins. He will debut the piece at the festival this month, along with about nine other recent carvings.

The Great Northern Arts Festival runs from July 15-19. It will feature artist demonstrations, workshops, film screenings and plenty of entertainment.