Toronto. A recent PHSC donation was made to the Museum of Inuit Art (MIA) to help it bring down south the results of youth photography in Canada’s far north. The north west of our country has spotty internet at best so the MIA decided to ship a selection of photographs to Toronto by air. The youths of our North West Territories took the photos mostly with Canon Rebel DSLRs plus the odd Nikon camera and Apple iPod Touch over three days. The MIA graciously hosted a monthly meeting and a talk by its Collections Manager Lauren Williams.
Bob Lansdale and I drove downtown in a circuitous route prompted by the awesome bumper-to-bumper traffic on the 427, QEW, and Gardiner. With me navigating, and Bob doing the heavy lifting, we managed to arrive just minutes before the talk and tour.
Before we saw the photographs, we were entertained by Ms Williams who narrated a tour of the MIA, tucked inside the Historic Queens Quay Terminal Warehouse, facing Lake Ontario. Lauren spoke knowledgeably about the sources and variety of Inuit art as she shepherded us though the exhibition displays one by one. The works of art we saw where often exquisitely detailed using materials available in the far north.
One example of modern materials was a black fringe around some smaller figures – a rubber like material seen years ago in old fashioned 78 rpm records. Lauren mentioned an early film in which the star pretended to eat a record as if it were food. In an aside she noted the term Eskimo was thought to mean raw meat eaters – not a very positive name. Today we use the term Inuit to identify our indigenous people of the far north – it means simply the people – a much more appropriate term.
After this fascinating talk and tour we arrived at the photographs. Each photograph was mounted in a slim black frame and carefully hung by a fine wire. The slightly non-perpendicular lines of the display cases gave the people at MIA a challenge in level hanging.
The photographs are in colour and illustrate daily scenes in the far north including surprisingly an old bicycle partly immersed in water. The winning photograph was a mute testament to the impact of global warming in our country. It shows two stubby dark cylinders next what looks like a concrete step. The cylinders are actually the tops of pile pipes originally driven deep into the permafrost and usually hidden to the eye. However, with global warming the permafrost is melting and these piles have become visible to the surprise of the local people.
Clint thanked Lauren for her talk and keeping the MIA open late for us. Afterwards I assisted Bob Lansdale as he captured some professional portraits of Lauren beside Inuit sculptures.