Over the course of four months, two jewellers in separate countries worked together to create something beautiful.
Levi Mequ, a Kalaaleq artist from Ilulissat, Greenland, who now lives in the United Kingdom, and Sakkataaq Zawadski, who is based out of Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU, were paired to collaborate remotely on several beaded earrings, working first through emails and phone calls before exchanging their creations by mail. Each artist was tasked with creating the beginning of a beaded pair of earrings, which was then mailed out to the other artist for completion, bringing together the work of both artists in each pair.
Here we trace the journey of the Tuilik/Avittat pair from inception to completion as it passed between these two talented artists across the sea.
“I really enjoyed this project and what I had the opportunity to create for Levi, but I stressed myself in the beginning and put a lot of pressure on myself to create the best, most beautiful beadwork that I have ever created. I scrapped five different projects in two weeks because I kept telling myself they all weren’t good enough!”
“What I created for Levi is inspired by the colours of the fringe on Inuit traditional tuilik (white, black, yellow, red, blue and green). I thought it would be a neat idea to have a little piece of Inuit traditional style of beading in this project. The top pieces I created had brick stitching, a double bead brick stitch made with delica beads.”
“The second set were medium sized fringe pieces made with size 10/0 Czech beads.”
“When I saw the beadwork that Sakkataaq sent me, the colours immediately reminded me of Greenlandic avittat skin embroidery, and I absolutely wanted to use that as inspiration.”
“Though I often make odd-paired earrings, I felt that just pairing vertically striped fringes (avittat usually runs longways) with the horizontally striped ones would clash. I opted to create two pairs of earrings to best appreciate the beadwork I received.”
“I have great admiration for Sakkataaq's work, and she made it easy to share ideas and plan ahead for what we could create together. It was a pleasure to get to try something new and collaborate with her on this project.”
See the Unnukkut Earrings
Sakkataaq Zawadski is a jeweller based in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU. She works with beads as well as natural elements like antler and fish-skin leather to create jewellery that speaks to both contemporary Inuit fashion and historical beadwork designs.
Levi Mequ is a multidisciplinary artist born in Ilulissat, Kalaallit Nunaat who now resides in the United Kingdom. They work principally with beads to create jewellery that references both traditional Kalaaleq designs and the queer community.
This project was made possible with the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts.