Polar bears, icebergs and art: Get up close with Inuit culture sailing the seas around Baffin Island - The Globe and Mail - Canadanewsmedia
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Polar bears, icebergs and art: Get up close with Inuit culture sailing the seas around Baffin Island – The Globe and Mail

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A polar bear waiting to hunt on walruses, in Nunavut.

Adeline Heymann/Handout

It’s a truly epic Arctic showdown.

On one side of remote Walrus Island in Nunavut, a big, fat polar bear struts around, as if he knows he’s the largest land-based predator on earth. He draws closer and closer to a herd of hundreds of walruses, most of them still groggy and soaking up the thin rays from a watery sun. A few of these cartoonish creatures rouse themselves long enough to sound a few vibrations of discontent. And then, what appears to be the alpha male – an animal weighing up to 900 kilograms, with massive tusks flashing in the early light – calls out, deep and guttural, almost a growl.

“That’s the warning call,” explains Angulalik Pedersen, an Inuit naturalist seated next to me on a zodiac lolling about nearby in the dark, undulating, absolutely frigid waters of northern Hudson Bay. The alpha draws himself up, ready for this age-old challenge, as the polar bear saunters in his direction, just around the corner. The riders in our little rubber boat, binoculars raised, camera shutters clicking, draw a collective breath.

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A zodiac cruising off Akpatok Island, in Ungava Bay.

Adeline Heymann/Handout

I am witness to this animal rivalry because I am passenger on board the RCGS Resolute, a small ship newly acquired and renovated by British Columbia-based One Ocean Expeditions. Designed to sail some of the remotest regions on Earth, it is my home in this wild place for 10 days, sailing from Iqaluit through freezing Frobisher Bay and down across the Hudson Strait, skirting the southern edges of Baffin Island. Along the way, I will experience some the best of this subarctic region, from arts to culture to wildlife and the vast, endless landscapes way up here, well above the tree line.

Upon leaving Iqaluit, we steam through masses of brash ice, the hull of the ship, strengthened for this purpose, firmly, and sometimes loudly, pushing it aside. At Kimmirut, our first port-of-call – a small hamlet of a few hundred and site of the first Hudson Bay trading post on Baffin Island – we’re welcomed warmly by residents. Told that we’re the only ship to visit this year, they’ve organized village tours and pulled together a Northern-style barbecue, complete with fresh bannock and Arctic char, on the grill.

I taste both, then sit for a bit inside a tupiq, a tent traditionally made of seal skin, chatting with an older man who tells me that, beyond our visit, today is exciting for another reason: it’s the first day of the caribou hunt. Residents here have already bagged three this morning. “We share the meat – we have a community feast, just like this one,” he says.

Multicoloured homes huddled along rocky, undulating hills in Cape Dorset.

Adeline Heymann/Handout

Sailing west, we pass icebergs the size of islands, complete with aquamarine lagoons, skirting a rugged landscape devoid of settlement, arriving the next day at Cape Dorset. A village of some 1,400 housed in multicoloured homes huddled along rocky, undulating hills, almost a quarter of the labour force here have declared “artist” as their occupation. We spend two days at anchor in the Inuit art capital of the world.

On the first, local guides organize passengers into small groups and we march up a hill to visit the print shop at the Kenojuak Cultural Centre, where every year a series of stone cuts and lithographs – released collectively as the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection – are produced. Perhaps the most famous was Kenojuak Ashevak’s Enchanted Owl, created in 1960, which now hangs in the National Gallery and has become an emblem across the Far North. We also tour through a gallery where ship passengers form a queue to snap up carvings of seals, bears and inuksuk for a fraction of the price they’d pay at galleries in “the south” (arctic shorthand for the whole world that sits below the extreme north).

On the second day, a handful of us are privileged to enjoy a private ramble around town with Nancy Campbell, a freelance curator and Inuit art expert who often works with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in the suburbs of Toronto. Moments after we climb out of the zodiacs and come back ashore, Campbell points out the small workshop across from the Co-Op store, where artists used to gather on a daily basis, before the town opened the cultural centre. “In the winter, they had to put a rope across the road between the drawing studio and the coffee shop, so people didn’t get lost, or blown away,” she says, pointing ahead.

Kids enjoying the outdoors in Cape Dorset.

Adeline Heymann/Handout

We visit the high school, where preparations are under way for a parade to showcase students’ art and, on the way out, a little further down the road, we bump into Mathew Nuqingaq, a renowned Inuit sculptor and jewellery artist, whose work has been featured at Paris Fashion Week and worn by Prince Charles. Unassuming in jeans and a T-shirt, ambling down the street on his own, he’s in town to hold a workshop on making designer snow goggles – one of his specialties. He brightens when I ask him whether he sees promise at the high school. “Oh yeah, for sure,” he says with a smile.

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Back on board, about a dozen residents join us for dinner and afterward three of them – sisters Maava and Jessie Toono, with Nuvalinga Kingwatsiak – stride to the stage in the ship’s lounge. They each wear an amauti, a traditional parka beautifully designed and adorned with beads and old pennies, the latter gathered from early transactions with European traders. As they joyfully demonstrate throat singing, another member of the community, Silaqqi Alariaq, interprets what we’re seeing, noting that this art form began as a game to pass long, dark, winter nights. “The first one to laugh – she loses,” Alariaq explains, almost laughing, herself.

An iceberg in Hudson Strait.

Adeline Heymann/Handout

From Cape Dorset, we steam on, stopping to tromp around the tundra at Erik Cove, a now-abandoned trading post, also motoring the zodiacs up a long, winding inlet, past a series of waterfalls, and later, circumnavigating Akpatok Island in Ungava Bay, where we spot two more polar bears, trotting along the rocky beach.

And, watching that great Arctic showdown on Walrus Island, a thrill goes through our zodiac. After rounding the corner and getting dangerously close, the bear eventually retreats, watched carefully, every step of the way, by the alpha walrus. We depart, taking a little spin around the island, spotting hundreds more of these curious creatures, most of them still asleep, a few banding together to swim out toward us, together. And then we make our way back to the ship, rolling back through the dark water, more of the vast north to navigate, just ahead.

The writer travelled as a guest of One Ocean Expeditions. It did not review or approve this article.

One Ocean Expeditions’s newly-renovated RCGS Resolute exploring Nova Scotia, N.L. and Nunavut this summer.

One Ocean Expeditions/Handout

Your turn

Purpose-built for polar expeditions, the ice-strengthened, 123-metre RCGS Resolute features large, comfortable cabins in six categories, as well as libraries and lounges with sweeping 180-degree views of the sea, plus a fully equipped fitness centre, hot tub, sauna and steam room. Meals are served in two venues – the dining room and a bistro with a lighter, more casual menu. All voyages include an expedition gear package that includes good rubber boots, windproof jacket, waterproof backpack, bib pants and binoculars. Fares for the 10-day South Baffin Explorer: Art, Culture and Wildlife start at US$7,995 (for each person, double-occupancy).

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Guests can either book their own flights, or fly on the charter provided by the cruise line on First Air, round-trip Ottawa to Iqaluit (US$1,995 a person). In Ottawa, One Ocean provides a courtesy desk and a preflight briefing at the Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a classic, luxury hotel steps from Parliament, which has recently completed a multimillion dollar renovation.

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Edmonton autistic artist remembered for achieving 'improbable territory' – CBC.ca

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Colleagues, family and friends are mourning the death of Matthew Wong, an Edmonton artist diagnosed with autism who was recognized internationally for his landscape paintings. 

Wong, 35, died on Oct. 2. Family and friends confirmed he died by suicide.

“I am in total shock,” said Monita Cheng, Wong’s mother.

“He’s an extremely talented person. He’s a lovely son. He’s extremely kind. He cares about people; he loves to help people,” she said. 

“He was voracious in everything that he did in life,” said Brendan Dugan, the owner of Karma, a gallery in New York City that represented Wong. 

“He accomplished more in the short time he was painting and making work than most people probably do in their whole lives,” he said. 

‘Instant recognition of his talent’ 

According to Dugan, Wong wasn’t trained as a painter; his artwork started from poetry and then translated into photography. He taught himself how to paint. 

Wong earned a bachelor of arts degree in cultural anthropology from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 2007. In 2013, he completed a masters of fine arts in photography at City University of Hong Kong. 

Matthew Wong’s oil on canvas painting, The Space Between Trees, hangs at Karma, in New York City. (Submitted by Karma/Estate of Matthew Wong)

“Matthew was very unusual in a lot of ways, his presence was kind of uncanny,” Dugan said. 

He first met Wong through Outside, a group art show hosted by Karma on Sept. 3, 2016. 

“Once Matthew was included in this group show, there was kind of an immediate and instant recognition of his talent,” Dugan said. 

“There was always this kind of layering of symbolism and poetry, within the idea of a landscape or nature.”  

‘Improbable territory for a young artist’ 

By 35, Wong had three solo exhibitions — two in Hong Kong and one in New York City. He has one more with Karma that’s forthcoming. Wong was also featured in 13 group exhibitions and two publications. 

David Moos, the owner of David Moos Art Advisory, said he came across Wong’s work at Karma.

Moos was also the modern and contemporary curator for the Art Gallery of Ontario from 2004 to 2011. 

Wong’s mother, Monita Cheng, says he was a self-taught artist. He was autistic and diagnosed with Tourette’s Syndrome at 15. (Peter Evans/CBC)

“Painting is an extremely challenging medium. It’s a demanding and difficult medium today to make meaningful and relevant paintings, and I think Matthew accomplished that at the very highest level which is remarkable for a person his age,” Moos said. 

“I think he brought his life experience to bear on what is improbable territory for a young artist to to tackle.”

Moos said Wong’s paintings allow people to “step aside from our everyday realm.”

“To look to Van Gogh is almost anecdotal at this point,” he said. “It is utterly contemporary. There’s there’s a plain spoken beauty in his work that I think is genuine and earnest.” 

Mental health struggles 

Wong was born in Toronto on March 8, 1984, though he and his family moved frequently between Hong Kong and Toronto.

According to Cheng, Wong struggled with depression while growing up. 

He was diagnosed with autism as a child and, by 14, he was diagnosed with depression and prescribed anti-depressants.

A photo of Wong as a child, found in his first poetry book. (Peter Evans/CBC)

Wong began seeing a psychiatrist at four years old.

He also saw child psychologists to help him with his social skills, Cheng said, adding it was difficult for Wong to make friends because they moved often. 

By 16, doctors diagnosed Wong with Tourette syndrome, a brain condition causing people to make involuntary sounds and movements. 

“He’d try different jobs and he says it’s not possible for him because he always had problems. His interpersonal skills were very, very poor,” Cheng said. 

Wong’s paintings sit in his studio, located on 53rd Avenue and 87 Street in Edmonton. (Peter Evans/CBC)

Cheng said her son loved North America and disliked Hong Kong, but he continued to live there because collectors there supported his paintings. 

In 2016, Wong relocated to Edmonton with his parents. They lived closed to the High Level Bridge. 

“Even when we were travelling, he would have have a sketchbook, he would sit down by Starbucks, get coffee [and] he would just sketch and draw,” Cheng said. “He said he loved Edmonton.” 

It was in Edmonton that Wong met Matthew Higgs, director of White Columns, a gallery in New York City, which later featured Wong’s art. 

‘He felt that he’s very lucky’ 

Cheng said despite her son’s struggles, he knew he was “lucky.” 

“Even though he suffers a lot because of the mental issues, he felt that he’s very lucky,” she said. “I think Matthew really wanted to be recognized as a great Canadian artist.” 

“Me and my husband, we are extremely proud of our son. He had a lot of struggle, but he also has a very strong mind.

A photo of one of Wong’s paintings in his Edmonton studio. (Peter Evans/CBC)

He’s like rock solid, you know.” 

Wong’s family and colleagues are holding a memorial service at the Connelly-McKinley Funeral Home, at 100th Avenue and 114th Street  on Oct. 21  at 1 p.m. 

The Karma gallery in New York City will also host an exhibit featuring Wong’s work, planned before Wong’s death. The exhibit is called Blue and runs from Nov. 8 to Dec. 22.

A photo of one of Wong’s paintings, sitting in his Edmonton studio. (Peter Evans/CBC)

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Saskatoon tattoo artist has year-long wait list – Global News

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Tattoo artist Jesse Zabos’ schedule is full for the next year.

“I will be opening my books in January and we will see how things go,” he told Global News.

Appointments for Zabos and the four other artists who work at his tattoo shop, Art Sharks Tattoo, are scarce because of the demand for their unique designs.


READ MORE:
Regina tattoo shop targeted by thieves for the 3rd time this year

“For inspiration we will take what the client wants, like what their ideas are, and then we will go from there,” he said.

“As artists we do a lot of custom stuff, so we create everything mostly from what’s inside our heads.”

He said designing something the client likes enough to carry with them for the rest of their life involves discussions, which can get very personal.

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“I have done a few like memorial pieces and stuff that’s really kind of touched the customer,” he said.


READ MORE:
‘I never want to forget them’: Memorial tattoos help people cope with loss, grief

“I think it’s good to help them heal through sometimes a tattoo as well.”

Darla Lindbjerg, CEO of the Saskatoon Chamber of Commerce, said the success makes sense, given the quality of the tattoo.

“If people are having a good experience and you are offering a great quality product, people will come back,” she said.

Zabos said part of the reward is knowing his art has such intense meaning for those who wear it.

“Sometimes it gets a little emotional when you finish the tattoo, just to have that closure for some people depending on what the situation of the tattoo is,” he said.

“But it’s really satisfying to make them happy and (know) they can enjoy it for the rest of their lives.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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Artist looking to make Waterloo Region more 'WorldRooted' – KitchenerToday.com

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It’s a movement drawing community together in a positive place, and it’s coming to the Region. 

‘WorldRooted: the Art Project for People’ founder Bethany Ann Davidson from Goderich, says they have been organizing art shows and cultural events to provide a space for people to develop their networks and find support.

“We’re really just looking to help people find their voice, to support charities both locally and around the world, shine a light on the good and let people connect.” says Davidson.

Davidson says she began WorldRooted in 2018, after learning that a friend and her family were experiencing survivor’s guilt after they had moved to Canada from Syria.

She says her friend and her husband were sending everything they could back to their families who had nothing. 

“I really wanted them to know that I felt for them, so I made a painting and when I sold it, I gave all of the money to them.” says Davidson, “And it’s been kind of like that ever since.”

On October 26th, WorldRooted will be in Waterloo to hold an art event at the Seven Shores Community Cafe.

The solo art show gives residents the opportunity to check out Davidson’s latest work and will offer food and beverages for purchase.

According to Davidson, the location for this event was chosen because of her relationship with co-owners of the cafe and the community built around Seven Shores Cafe.

“My friends Steve and Deb Tulloch, who co-own Seven Shores Cafe, they really had a large impact on me on what it means to love and to live well.” says Davidson, “So when I said  ‘Hey, I would love to have an artisan at your cafe,’ they said ‘Hey, that would be awesome!’ ” 

“We’re just going to get together, those of us who are available that night.” says Davidson, “There will be live music, and we’re just going to have a really nice time.”

Davidson says because of the Tulloch’s involvement with the International Association for Refugees Canada, and their relationship with Adventure4Change owner Jeremy Horne, she decided to donate 25 per cent of all proceeds on October 26th to these charities, and Reception House Waterloo Region.

Davidson says her display hanging at the cafe focuses on food like chickpeas, coffee plants and sugar cane, plants that are grown in different countries but are used everyday by Canadians. 

“A lot of Canadians have seen these pieces and not known what the plant was that was in the art,” says Davidson, “And that’s because they didn’t grown up growing coffee plants, or sugar cane or whatever else.”

“It’s meant to help us see more of our global village, and help then to also recognize that there are people in our community who do recognize these plants and do have a past that is closely connected to this flora.”

Davidson says with her work and WorldRooted, she hopes to inspire conversation between people to foster better understanding each other.

“I believe that artists make art because they have something that needs to come out.” says Davidson, “I’m just putting it out there for people to see, and hopefully people want to buy and take it home, and it becomes a conversation starter for the rest of their lives.”  

To learn more about the event, click here

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