Art North of 60°

The Great Northern Arts Festival Celebrates its 25th
  • Mar 31, 2013
  • 314 words
  • 2 minutes
Photo courtesy GNAF
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Creative energy is a life force. It doesn’t bow to the constraints of time or space. Even so, for the artists who dwell in Canada’s Far North and subarctic, the real estate cliché that honours “location, location, location” must never far from mind. Traditional arts, carving, sculpture, painting and a range of crafting arts have all found a home in the frigid land that encompasses Yukon, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and the Arctic Archipelago. But when it comes to sourcing materials and production facilities, establishing supportive communities and accessing distant marketplaces, these artists struggle with a mighty handicap. For a northern artist, isolation is a harsh — and expensive — fact of life.

Since 1989, the Canadian North Great Northern Arts Festivals has been building annual opportunities for artists to erase the vast and chilly distances between them, as well as earn money for their art. This year, from July 12-21, dozens of visual and performing artists will once again travel to Inuvik, NWT, to meet and inspire one another, to learn new methods and techniques and to showcase their work.

For visiting travellers, it’s a rare and memorable opportunity to glimpse a diverse culture steeped in talent and tradition. Visitors can meet artists, hear a range of languages and dialects and purchase original artworks in the gallery (no bargaining is allowed). Daily workshops on such arts as contemporary sculpture, hand painting caribou hide, band weaving, beading, fish scale art and more are open to the public. Artist’s and People’s Choice Awards recognize individual contributors, but there are also shout-outs for the volunteers and mentors that make the festival possible.

The themed celebration of this year’s festival is “Reflections of the Past/Visions of the Future.” We wish the intrepid artists of Canada’s North and the festival’s passionate organizers a vibrant and rewarding silver anniversary.

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