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Travelling artists

Laura Power
Northern News Services
Wednesday, August 1, 2007

INUVIK - Two Kivalliq artists travelled to Inuvik last week to take part in the 19th annual Great Northern Arts Festival, and festival staff had plenty of good things to say about them.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Simon Tookoome was one of the two artists from the Kivalliq region to attend the Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik last week. - Laura Power/NNSL photo

Simon Tookoome represented Baker Lake with his traditional drawings while Obed Anoee, a carver from Arviat, displayed his caribou antler creations.

Charlene Alexander, co-founder of the festival, who now serves at the festival as a curator, said that along with being a respected elder, Tookoome is internationally recognized.

She said he is a pioneer of marketable artwork in the region.

"Simon is a treasure," she said. "He's a wealth of traditional culture... he embodies the culture from that region."

Tookoome is one of the founders of the Baker Lake print shop.

He worked during this year's festival on drawings, which were being sold to a number of people attending the event.

Alexander said that Anoee's mother, Martina Anoee, often came out to the festival but couldn't make it this time.

"She would have loved to have come back but she's too elderly now," she said of the doll maker.

This was Anoee's third time attending the festival - an outlet which has helped him as an artist.

Anoee also said it is a great way to meet other artists and get new ideas for his artwork, which up until now has been almost exclusively caribou antler carvings.

He planned to attend a knife making workshop during the festival and to pick up some soapstone to try his hand at carving.

Though he said felt that in some ways, he and Tookoome were a good representation of the Kivalliq area, he also said there should be more.

"I think there should be more... (there are) a lot of young people who are trying to start off and it's a little hard," he said.

"My first time here two years back kept me going, kept me wanting to carve," he said.

Anoee plans to spread the word about the festival to young artists in Arviat who may be able to benefit from the festival as he did.