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Atausiq Gallery now open in Iqaluit

Adam Johnson
Northern News Services

Iqaluit (Nov 27/06) - Iqaluit has a new venue for public art, just in time for the Christmas season.

Recently, the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association launched the Atausiq Gallery, a small space for Nunavut arts in a downtown highrise in Iqaluit.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Rankin Inlet's Jerry Ell works on a carving during the 2006 Nunavut Arts Festival. The Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, which runs the festival each year, has opened a new gallery in Iqaluit. - NNSL file photo

"It's small, but I think it will show the potential of what's done across the North," said NACA executive director Beth Beattie. "We'll keep it fairly busy."

The opening drew between 60 and 70 Nunavummiut politicians, artists and art lovers, many of whom were wowed by a unique display. In the gallery, hundreds of nanook flakes - Christmas ornaments from Sanikiluaq made with left-over Polar Bear fur - hung from the ceiling like a (furry) winter wonderland.

"It was a unique show, because the nanook flakes were unusual to see," she said. "People said, 'It reminded me of when I was a child, out in the snowfall.'

"It's nice to show people something a little different."

The launch display runs until tomorrow, when the gallery will start to showcase the results of its "bird competition."

"We had 104 submissions," Beattie said, which came from all over Nunavut; from Baker Lake to Cape Dorset and from Sanikiluaq to Kimmirut.

The competition focused on small pieces, no larger than a six inch (15 cm) frame, each conforming to the theme of "birds." Beattie said this helped to level the playing field somewhat, as artists had to create small, inexpensive, and easy-to-transport pieces.

Mary Mariq from Baker Lake took home the top prize of $1,000, while Sanikiluaq's Jimmy Iqaluq won the second prize of $500. Simionie Akavak from Kimmirut won third place, taking home $250.

Honourable mentions went to Suzanne Mablik from Repulse Bay, Winnie Tatja of Baker Lake, Cape Dorset's Ninguikulu Teevee, and Violet Twyee from Rankin Inlet.

Around 70 pieces will be put on display, Beattie said, which should make for a varied gallery showing, including sculpture, prints, watercolour and sewn pieces.

"Everybody did their thing within that framework," she said.

Beattie said she hopes to make the competition annual in the future, focusing on new themes each year. Beattie said the pieces are geared towards holiday shoppers, in that they are small and relatively inexpensive, and many come pre-framed.

"People can take it home and put it right on the wall," Beattie said with a laugh.