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Art gallery keeps an eye on Kivalliq

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Rankin Inlet (Nov 06/06) - After nearly 20 years in the Kivalliq, the Matchbox Gallery is looking to get more artists online.

Recently, the Rankin Inlet gallery launched its database of Kivalliq artists, as it looks towards its 20th anniversary.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Artist John Kurok of Rankin Inlet works on his latest piece at the Matchbox Gallery recently. - photo courtesy of Jim Shirley

"The database will enable people from all over the world to establish connections with artists from this community," said Matchbox co-founder Jim Shirley.

He said this would help to alleviate a major barrier facing Kivalliq artists: living in the Kivalliq.

"This place is really isolated from major markets," he said.

Right now, the database of 17 artists focuses primarily on Rankin Inlet, but Shirley hopes to expand that in the future. However, he said it might take outside help to bring the database a step further. "We're looking for someone to host the database and tend to it properly.

"If interest is expressed in a piece from the site, we need someone to be an intermediary between the buyer and the artist to facilitate the sale."

For the last three years, the gallery has hosted a series of traditional arts workshops. They are overseen by the Kangirqliniq Centre for Arts and Learning, a non-profit board comprised of artists who have gone through gallery programming.

"We take professional artists and create an environment where they can share information and share techniques while using those techniques to earn a living."

Shirley has lived in Rankin for nearly 28 years and said he is proud of the achievements Matchbox Gallery has racked up over he last two decades.

"It feels wonderful to see the impact on people's lives," he said. "We've been an important influence for the better for people who need positive input and need support. "It's a great achievement for us to have survived 20 years."

Shirley said the gallery has work up for consideration by the National Gallery, joining works featured around the country. The pieces will be included in an Inuit art collection at a new museum being built in Toronto.

"The feds cutting support for museums hasn't helped the project, but I met with (representatives) this past weekend and was told it's going ahead."