Organization in Nunavut looking for solutions to demand for affordable art and souvenirs – North

Not everyone wants to—or can afford to—drop a few hundred dollars on a soapstone carving after their trip to Nunavut, but many still want a souvenir to take home.

Iqaluit’s new airport is selling reproduction aluminium and pewter carvings made in Ontario to sate the desire for cheaper pieces.

The souvenir shop is run by Arctic Co-operatives Limited, which also buys crafts and carvings from artists from across the territory. 

Iqaluit’s new airport is selling reproduction aluminium and pewter carvings made in Ontario to sate the desire for cheaper pieces. These sell for between $20 and $60. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

“Some travelers want to buy a $15 inukshuk that might be mass produced because they may not want to have a $100 soapstone carving,” said Duane Wilson, vice-president stakeholder relations with Arctic Co-operatives.

Justin Ford, the director of programming with the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association understands this.

He says it’s either a $20 zipper pull or a carving that costs hundreds of dollars, so the association is working with artists to fill the mid-price range gap in the local art market.

“Maybe it’s glass sculptures that can be one sculpture carved and then they cast it and then it’s made into a limited edition. Something like that could cost much less than an original carving,” he said.

Soapstone carvings and crafts from Nunavut artists from Gjoa Haven to Sanikiluaq are for sale at the Iqaluit airport’s souvenir shop. (Jane Sponagle/CBC)

He says another way to serve artists is to provide them with more workspaces, like the Jessie Oonark Centre in Baker Lake, which provides a space for local carvers, seamstresses, jewellery-makers and printmakers.

With the space to work, Ford says it would be easier for artists to meet demand to fill stores.

A facility like this may be coming to Iqaluit, according to Bernie MacIsaac, an assistant deputy minister for the territorial department of Economic Development and…

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