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For most Canadians, the North is less physical fact or collection of geopolitical entities than, as Glenn Gould had it, an idea, a place of the imagination. Call it the Frosty Exotic, a place informed by a hodgepodge of cultural and historical touchstones soapstone carvings at the airport gift shop; Robert W. Service poems; the doomed Franklin expedition; Never Cry Wolf; Atanarjuat; Cape Dorset prints; infinities of snow, ice, rock and tundra, beautiful and terrifying, seen from a Twin Otter cockpit. Most Canadians, of course, will never visit Cape Dorset or Inuvik, or witness a caribou migration. The most "Arctic" experience they're ever likely to have or want will be donning a parka with a Canada Goose Arctic Program patch on the arm.
Yet the North remains the source of such stuff as dreams are made on. Until the mid 20th century, those dreams were transmitted largely via Service, Yves Thriault, Jack London and their ilk (white, male "tourists"). But for the last six decades or so, it's been Northerners themselves, aboriginal peoples mostly, who have been the primary purveyors of the Arctic narrative, at least its artistic manifestations. Mastery of printmaking and carving, in fact, have made international stars of Kenojuak Ashevak, Ashoona Pitseolak and Joe Talirunili, among others. In recent years, Northern creators have edged more closely to the artistic mainstream, both in terms of content (expanding beyond mythological, folkloric and natural themes into Discount Women Canada Goose Kensington Parka Brown Australia grittier contemporary territory) and media (video, film, music, dance and theatre).
This is part of The North, a Globe investigation of unprecedented change to the climate, culture and politics of Canada's last frontier. Join the conversation with GlobeNorth
A new generation of Arctic artists push the boundaries of Northern art
Perhaps the best illustration of this apotheosis of North moving South, South moving North, occurred in late 2006 in Montreal, when Cape Dorset's Annie Pootoogook won the $50,000 Sobey Art Award, prevailing over finalists from Vancouver, Halifax, Quebec and London. Today there are probably no more than 750 artists of all stripes living in Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut 120 alone live in Cape Dorset whereas, according to one study, Ontario's total exceeds 57,000. Yet it could be argued that Arctic artists have punched well above their numbers and will continue to do so. Educated at Nova Scotia College of Art DesignPatrick Kane.