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Aboriginal artisans do “very well” at Victoriaville sale

Thursday December 19, 2013
Photos by Rick Garrick/Wawatay News

Slate Falls’ Chancillor Crane had a number of birch root carvings for sale at the annual arts and crafts sale.
Photos by Rick Garrick/Wawatay News

Sandy Lake’s Ray Linklater shows off a three-panel painting he had for sale at the 13th Annual Aboriginal Fine Arts and Crafts Xmas Gift Show and Sale.
Photos by Rick Garrick/Wawatay News

Lake Helen’s Josie Wawia shows off her mother Anne’s quilted artwork during the Victoriaville Centre arts and crafts sale.
Photos by Rick Garrick/Wawatay News

Gull Bay’s Diane Davis (Nawogesic) had a number of moose-hide gun cases for sale during the Dec. 3-7 arts and crafts sale.

Slate Falls’ Chancillor Crane used his birch root carvings to overcome a tragedy in his community this past summer.

“We lost five people and this helped me deal with a lot of stuff,” Crane said. “In a way, it’s my therapy.”

Crane first began carving his birch root carvings after discovering a uniquely-shaped root while clearing his yard.

“One day I was cleaning my yard in the fall time and a frozen stump came out and I just started carving it,” Crane said. “I saw a cane at first and then I saw an eagle head. It just grew from there.”

Crane and a record number of Aboriginal artisans took part in the 13th Annual Aboriginal Fine Arts and Crafts Xmas Gift Show and Sale from Dec. 3-7 at the Victoriaville Centre in Thunder Bay.

“This show is probably the best show I ever had,” said John Ferris, founder of the Aboriginal Artworks Group of Northern Ontario and organizer of the annual arts and crafts sale. “Every year is like that, but this year is more exceptional because there were new people, younger artisans, that had joined the group.”

Ferris noted an Aboriginal artisan from British Columbia who carves B.C. cedar.

“And he’s already worked with some of our local cedar and developed some creative artwork from that,” Ferris said. “It was very amazing work.”

Ferris said the arts and crafts on display, which included quilts and unique jewellery, were very inspiring.

“We had over 200 artisans — a lot of people represented other artists at their table,” Ferris said. “And despite the poor weather we had the first two days, a lot of people came in to purchase the artwork.”

Pic Mobert’s Candace Twance had a variety of wall-hangings with Ojibwe floral designs painted on diagonal cross-sections of wood for sale while Sandy Lake’s Ray Linklater had a number of paintings, including a three-panel piece, for sale.

“I was influenced by Lloyd Kakepetum, the late Carl Ray, Roy Thomas and Joshim Kakegamic,” Linklater said. “But my uncles always told me that you have to have your own style. So it’s better to have your own style where you are comfortable in.”

Ferris is currently planning another Aboriginal arts and crafts exhibition and sale for late July or early August 2014 in Toronto.

“We want this exhibition to concentrate on promoting our culture, our heritage and our language through our artwork,” Ferris said. “I’ve already spoken to the artisans, young and old, and they are very receptive.”

Ferris said the artisans want to expand their market and promote their artwork to a different audience.

“The (artwork) pricing should be at least double or triple the cost of what they are selling here,” Ferris said. “We’re trying to promote our art to other cultures in different parts of the world, and we want to show them the authenticity of our work. That is why the prices are being set up a little higher than here.”

Ferris said the Toronto exhibition would cost about $600 per person for the five day trip, which includes two travel days and three exhibition days.

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