Iqaluit’s silver genius

“We’re thrilled to have him here in his first solo show”

By NUNATSIAQ NEWS

JACKIE WALLACE

Iqaluit artist Mathew Nuqingaq has made his artistic debut in Toronto.

Some 49 pieces of Nuqingaq’s jewellery are on display until Aug. 29 at the Guild Shop gallery of the Ontario Crafts Council.

The show, “Treasures From North of 60,” is the first solo show for Nuqingaq.

“We’re thrilled to have him here in his first solo show,” said Ann Tompkins, director of the Inuit and Native Gallery of The Guild Shop. “All of the ladies that work here are in love with his jewellery.”

Nuqingaq was raised on Broughton Island, and now lives in Iqaluit where he is a jewellery and silversmith instructor at Nunavut Arctic College. His expertise is working in metal, but he is also an accomplished carver and drum dancer.

In addition to bracelets, pendants and rings, Nuqingaq also made a series of miniature ivory carvings the size and shape of golf tees depicting people and Arctic animals for the Toronto show.

“The response has been positive,” Nuqingaq said from Toronto last Thursday afternoon, just before his opening that evening. “I have quite a lot of clientele in Toronto.”

After the first weekend of Nuqingaq’s show, Tompkins declared the show a success.

Tompkins said she was excited that a bride bought three of Nuqingaq’s pendants to give to her bridesmaids.

Many people from Nunavut also stopped in to see Nuqingaq at the opening.

Tompkins said she first became aware of Nuqingaq as far back as 1995, but really became interested in displaying his work after she visited a show of Nunavut Arctic College’s work at the Toronto harbour front two years ago.

Tompkins said she was drawn to his contemporary depiction of Inuit imagery.

After that show, she began to carry Nuqingaq’s work in the Guild Shop and patrons began to snap up his pieces.

“We think of it as beautiful art that you can wear,” said Tompkins. “There is a beautiful Inuit theme. His work is for anyone who appreciates finely crafted jewellery.”

Although his jewellery is bringing him success and many invitations to shows around the world, Nuqingaq said he has trouble finding enough time to produce all of the work.

“It’s been a busy couple of years,” he said. “It’s always quite a rush to get everything done.”

In recent years, Nuqingaq has shown his work at the World Expo 2005 in Aichi, Japan, at the United Nations in Geneva and in Hungary, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States.

Nuqingaq is also a cornerstone of the Nunavut arts community. He is past chairperson of the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, a member of the board of directors of the Nunavut Arts Council and the Aboriginal Advisory Committee of the Canada Council for the Arts.

With his current show up and running, Nuqingaq plans to return to Iqaluit, but not for long.

He’ll be back to work preparing to take part in a show put on by the Inuit Art Society in Indianapolis in October.

“Once the galleries find out about you, you get a lot of invitations,” Nuqingaq said.

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