Today we’re taking a moment to celebrate the major artistic output from Nunatsiavut, featuring early trailblazers like Gilbert Hay and emerging artists like Erica Jacque. Keep on scrolling to learn about the breadth of art-making in the region!
Blanche Winters Project Atigi Parka (2019) Courtesy Canada Goose
Blanche Winters is a renowned seamstress from Makkovik, Nunatsiavut, NL, respected for her work in not just creating clothing, but educating others on how to create their own. She has been a teacher for over 17 years, showing students from kindergarten to grade nine, how to make slippers, mitts, hats, kamiks (boots), handbags and jackets, and has built her own thriving bespoke garment business on these skills. Always in demand, her parkas can be found nationally and internationally, notably as part of Canada Goose’s Project Atigi.
Inez Shiwak My Great Grandparent’s Cabin (2015) sealskin and wood 152.4 × 91.4 cm PHOTO AIMEE CHALK
A seamstress, video artist and producer from Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, NL, Inez Shiwak combines her artistic practice with her work as a researcher and activist. She learned her skills as a seamstress from her mother, Jane Shiwak—one of few artists in Nunatsiavut continuing to make Inuit dolls—as a way of participating in intergenerational knowledge sharing, taking the traditional skills and materials and adapting them to her own perspective and practice. Shiwak is perhaps best known for her unique sealskin tapestries, and was featured as one of the IAQ’s “30 Artists to Know” in 2017.
Gilbert Hay Inukshuk (1981) Lithograph 45.7 x 33 cm COURTESY THE ROOMS
Gilbert Hay is a carver and printmaker from Nain, Nunatsiavut, NL, whose extensive travel as a young man heightened and informed his love of his own culture and determination to keep it alive in his work. Marked by the tension between ‘traditional’ Inuit art and something more abstract, Hay’s carvings comment on the political and philosophical realities of Inuit life today. Hay is considered the first Inuk from Labrador to experiment with printmaking, and is a past director of the Inuit Art Foundation.
Barry Pottle Silverspoon I (2017) Digital photograph COURTESY THE CITY OF OTTAWA
Originally from Rigolet and now based in Ottawa, ON, Barry Pottle specializes in photography as a medium of artistic expression and as a way of exploring the world around him. Through the camera’s lens, Pottle showcases the uniqueness of the urban Inuit community, particularly his work with the Indigenous arts community. Whether it is at a cultural gathering, a family outing or the solitude of nature that photography allows, he captures the essence of Inuit life outside Inuit Nunangat. He was featured as one of the IAQ’s “30 Artists to Know” in 2017.
Billy Gauthier Where Did They Go? (n.d.) Ivory, baleen, serpentine and sinew 1.5 x 3.5 x 1.75 in Courtesy Spirit Wrestler Gallery
An exceptionally detailed sculptor with a penchant for combining various materials in his works, artist and activist Billy Gauthier is currently based in North West River, NL. Gauthier initially began to carve in 1996, inspired by his cousin John Terriak. Thematically, Gauthier’s work centres Inuit practices, cosmologies, spirituality and personal memories, while addressing the contemporary challenges faced by many Inuit families and communities including food insecurity, environmental degradation and substance abuse.
Erica Jacque Embroidered Earrings (2020) Courtesy the artist
Erica Jacque is a textile artist from Postville Nunatsiavut, NL, who is passionate about helping others. Creating embroidery, hoop art and miniature dioramas made with recycled materials, Jacque works to raise money for the Nain Safe House in Nunatsiavut’s northernmost community. Although Jacque primarily focuses on people, local flowers and other plant life, she is also known to retrace the works of well-known graphic artists like Kenojuak Ashevak and Annie Pootoogook in embroidered form.
Mark Igloliorte Family (2008) Oil on plexiglas 71.5 x 100 cm PHOTO TARA NICHOLSON
An interdisciplinary artist whose primary focus is painting, Mark Igloliorte’s work investigates and communicates his Inuit heritage, as well as considers the relationship between image and material. He spent the majority of his childhood in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, NL, but now resides in Vancouver, BC, where he works as an artist and educator. Igloliorte credits his own arts education with informing his observational and investigative approach to painting, drawing and performance—he holds a BFA from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design and an MFA from Concordia University.
Ryan Winters Untitled (2020) Digital photograph Courtesy the artist
Ryan Winters is a photographer from Hopedale, Nunatsiavut, NL, whose work investigates the relationship between traditional Inuit life and aspects of time, change, tradition and modernity. A self-taught photographer, Winters uses double exposure to depict formation and movement in his images, revisiting the night sky and the aurora borealis in low-light conditions again and again.
An emerging artist, animator and jeweller from Nain, Echo Henoche made her directorial debut with the animated short "Shaman" (2017), which became part of the official selections at several major film festivals, including ImagineNATIVE in Toronto, ON. Sedna and wildlife are recurring themes in Henoche’s work across all mediums, often as figurative elements with precise lines set against colourful backgrounds. Representing her community and her Nunatsiavimmiut heritage are the backbones of her artistic practice.
Jason Sikoak The Hunter (n.d.) Pen and ink 91.4 x 121.9 cm COURTESY THE NEWFOUNDLAND QUARTERLY ONLINE
Born in Rigolet, NL, and currently based in Montreal, QC, Jason Sikoak works with mixed media, pen-and-ink drawing and linocut printmaking. Sikoak started working in wood, stone, bone and antler before expanding to pen and ink. They often tackle political and spiritual themes, explaining in a recent op-ed the importance of cultural reclamation in their own life. Sikoak’s work was included in the travelling exhibition SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut, and they are currently pursuing a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Studio Arts at Concordia University.
Click here to explore the breadth of art-making in Nunatsiavut!