Festival draws artists to Inuvik

Diana Yeager/NNSL photo April Glaicar collects sand from the shore of Great Slave Lake that she will turn into glass for her jewelry. Glaicar will be travelling to Inuvik this week for the Great Northern Arts Festival where she will display her craft. 

Diana Yeager/NNSL photo
April Glaicar collects sand from the shore of Great Slave Lake that she will turn into glass for her jewelry. Glaicar will be travelling to Inuvik this week for the Great Northern Arts Festival where she will display her craft.

Hay River will be well-represented at this month’s Great Northern Arts Festival in Inuvik.

April Glaicar, who makes jewelry, and Jennifer Buckley, who creates fish-scale art, will be travelling north.

Both artists said the festival will offer an opportunity for networking.

“I’m excited to meet new artists,” said Buckley. “Every artist has a different eye and we can all get ideas from each other.”

Glaicar is looking forward to networking as well but with an added motive. Now that she is co-chair of next year’s Hay Days arts and music festival, she is hoping to bring back some ideas to Hay River.

“I’m going to get some ideas, and reach out to artists,” she said.

Both artists will have a chance to attend workshops, as well as lead their own. Their displays are interactive with the artists working on their craft on location for others to observe.

Glaicar said she will also be working on a few statement pieces for models to display at the festival’s fashion show on July 23.

“I’m incredibly honoured,” she said. “I couldn’t ask for a more amazing opportunity.”

The 28th annual festival will run from July 15 to 24 featuring various artists from all over the North, as well as a few selected from larger centres in the south.

The festival is a time for celebrating the diverse artistic traditions of the North, showcasing painters, jewellers, fashion designers, multimedia artists, carvers and traditional artists.

Glaicar had been creating mixed-media jewelry as a hobby up until last year, when she left her position with the GNWT to focus on her craft full time.

“The call to work creatively was too strong,” she said. “I want natural light, I want to breathe fresh air. It was coming but I was just fighting it.”

Now that her two children have grown up, she finds she has the time to focus completely on her craft.

Glaicar designs unique jewelry using her own photographs transferred onto glass or metal. Recently, she has been experimenting with creating her own glass from the sand she finds on the shores of Great Slave Lake.

“I’ve become a student of chemistry, physics and math again,” she laughed.

She said the process to create glass takes a lot of experimenting with different temperatures and mixtures.

Glaicar said most of her pieces sell to visitors from Japan, China and Germany. She has a display in Yellowknife at the Northern Frontier Visitor Centre that does quite well, having sold more than 1,000 pieces in the last four years.

“One of the coolest things was when my friend told me she was in Belgium wearing her necklace with the aurora on it, and she got stopped on the street by someone who wanted to see it,” she said.

While she is focused mainly on jewelry, Glaicar will be branching out into glass wear and sun catchers this year.

She also hopes to spend the winter helping other artists developing their plans which she hopes will strengthen the community of artists in Hay River.

Buckley has been creating fish-scale art for three years, and this will be her first time at the Inuvik festival, as well.

Her work runs in the family, as her two brothers are commercial fishermen, following in the footsteps of generations before.

“I have an abundant supply of fish scales and bones,” she said. “I’m very fortunate. It makes you appreciate how people have survived on this industry.”

Buckley works a two-week rotation at Diavik Diamond Mine, which allows her two weeks of focused fish-scale time when she is home. She creates decorative art as well as jewellery, which is sold in Hay River at the visitor centre, the heritage centre, She Takes the Cake Cafe and North Country Inn.

She draws her inspiration from her property in the West Channel right where the Hay River meets Great Slave Lake.

“I get to look out as I’m doing my art, and I really get an appreciation for what I’m doing,” she said. “When aboriginal people hunt and skin and tan a moose, we use every part of it. It’s the same here, we use every part of the fish.”

Buckley said it takes days to scale a fish and prepare the materials. Using natural ingredients such as vinegar and water, she cleans and colours her supplies until they are ready to be worked into a design. She said her favourite design to work with is her fish-scale flowers.

“Ideally, I’d love to be doing this full time,” she said.

This year she has been teaching classes in Hay River, which she said were quite popular, and she will be offering more in the fall.

Diana Yeager