Monthly Archives: August 2016

Art in the ‘peg

It always surprises me that many people don’t know about the rich cultural scene in Winnipeg.  “Really?” they ask. I wonder why more Canadians aren’t aware of the breadth and depth of the arts and culture in Manitoba?  Maybe it’s because the artists, musicians, writers, dancers and theatre folk in the ‘peg are too busy creating and not spending enough time marketing their creations.  Maybe it’s because the Canadian media has a bias toward Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver with their larger populations. It’s probably the result of all of this, and more.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery was one of my chosen art destinations this summer.  (Yes!  Venice AND Winnipeg.)  I was very motivated to see three of the artists featured this summer:  Chagall, Karel Funk and, especially,  Ether Warkov.

As sometimes happens in an art gallery, there were other artists who captured my attention the August day I visited the WAG. This is the sculpture that caused me to retrace my steps, read the introduction to the show, and look at the work more carefully…….

Ikayukta Tunnillie Carrying Her Drawings to the Co-op by Oviloo Tunnillie

Ikayukta Tunnillie Carrying Her Drawings to the Co-op by Oviloo Tunnillie

The retrospect of Oviloo Tunnillie’s carvings, A Woman’s Story in Stone is an extensive examination of her work, and her life. Oviloo Tunnillie is a significant Canadian artist. Not only was she one of the first female Inuit carvers, but she was one of the first Inuit carvers to depict the nude human figure. The sculptures, dating from the 1970’s through the 1990’s, begin with traditional motifs (eg. birds) and evolve into more personal subjects. Oviloo Tunnillie’s choice and treatment of subject matter are the reasons I was wrenched from my cursory amble through the show. 

Here is what she said about her Sednas, the half female/half fish sea spirits:
I try to make my sure that my Sednas are a little different from other people’s Sednas. Although I’ve never seen any Sednas myself, because they live in the water or in the ocean, I make sure that they look partly wet……I do like making Sednas.  And I do like the fact that someone has seen one just recently.

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

The work is, at times, charming as well as beautiful.  Below are The Skater and Child on Sled.

The Skater by Oviloo Tunnillie

Child on Sled by Oviloo Tunnillie

Perhaps what I most admire about it is her honesty.   She did not shy away from difficult topics like alcoholism, and other social ills. As a child, Oviloo Tunnillie suffered from tuberculosis, and was sent to the south of Canada for treatment.  Her time in care in Toronto is represented by this sculpture…….

This Has Touched My Life by Oviloo Tunnillie

This Has Touched My Life by Oviloo Tunnillie

The show runs until September 11, 2016 in Winnipeg.  Can’t get to Winnipeg before then?  There is a catalogue from the show available. Commercial galleries such as Madrona Gallery  (Victoria) and Marion Scott Gallery (Vancouver) sell some of her work.



Answering back!

The Art Caravan is working towards informing its subjects about the discussion in this blog.  After writing a post, I often send an email to the artist to tell them I wrote about their work.  I have been pleasantly surprised that artists like Jennifer Stilwell (June 2) and Anila Agha promptly responded to my emails.  (If you haven’t read the January 15 posting on Agha’s installation, please do so! Right now is as good a time as any…..just click here.)

Pierre Belanger, landscape architect, and head of the Canadian installation at this year’s Venice Biennale for Architecture, responded to last week’s blog posting, Can You Tell Me What’s Going On Here?  In the last paragraph I wrote:  I did enjoy the variety of ways the ideas are presented. I only wish the presentation had provided a vision for a way forward.

I was somewhat surprised, but happy to hear back from M. Belanger. Here is his response, in part:

The conversation we are looking to curate next year across Canada during our tour will hopefully address your questions about strategies moving forward. For us, it was important to first put this issue on the table, for which most Canadians (let alone Europeans) that live in big metropolitan regions are unaware of, nor really care to think much about. There is a huge part of territorial history that Canadians need to know about, and we believe that this project of mapping is a projective in itself. The lens it casts on Canada opens up many unheard voices with many ideas, old and new, about the future. We’re simply providing grounds for those voices to be heard, understood, and acted upon.

He genuinely seems interested in continuing the dialogue.  It’s a timely discussion, considering  yesterday’s beginning of the Canadian National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women.  This is, hopefully, the season for truth telling and reconciliation in Canadian society.

photo by T. Vatrt