Over the past forty years, the Baker Lake region of Canadas far north has become famous for the production of appliquéd wall hangings that depict Inuit scenes. Fashioned from felted wool with beading, embroidery and elaborately patterns, these new works will be a feature display during Convergence 2002 in Vancouver.
Elizabeth Angrnaqquaq Untitled (1980), felt appliqué and embroidery floss on cloth [Marion Scott Gallery, Vancouver BC, Jul 27-Aug 31]
Fabric artists and enthusiasts will not be the only ones to appreciate them. The motifs and border patterns are frequently composed in whimsical, rhythmic arrays, and touch on subjects from wilderness camping and hunting to motherhood and family life. Like much folk art, there is rarely any overlapping to suggest two-dimensional relief or three-dimensional space. The winsome creatures and caricatures are highly narrative, with each subject cleanly in its own spatial area. The Matisse-like play of figure and ground is charming and dextrous.
The varieties found within such closely-linked works are stunning in their subtle complexities. Beautiful, bright, gay and brilliantly naive, each piece is more than a valuable representation of the craft. It is an artefact of a secular way of living and creating that values the traditions of isolated societies. The imaginative genius of the women represented here is rarely paralleled.