BY: MÉLANIE RITCHOT
Photo courtesy of: Canada Goose, Inc.
A few months ago, Ottawa-based printmaker and ceramicist Gayle Uyagaqi Kabloona came across artworks by her grandmother and great-grandmother in the Art Gallery of Guelph’s collection, where she exhibited over the summer. Seeing her matriarchs’ works, many for the first time, inspired Kabloona to teach herself how to sew textile wall hangings—a medium traditional to Nunavut Inuit—right down to the different stitches used.
The wall hanging commissioned by Canada Goose titled Uvagut, which means “all of us” in Inuktitut, is Kabloona’s monochromatic take on the medium and only her second wall hanging ever.
After completing her first wall hanging, which used a bold colour palette that’s typical to the North, Kabloona found a white melton wool that she wanted to work with. Here, it’s contrasted against black duffel wool and features a blanket stitch.
Although she remembers watching her grandmother, back in Baker Lake, Nunavut, confidently (and without using a pattern) cut out pieces of fabric to be stitched together, Kabloona’s process starts with a sketch, and she eventually creates a giant pattern using a projector.
Each of the five hands sewn onto the seven-by-four-foot background is embroidered with traditional Inuit tattoos, the dots symbolizing family, life and fertility.
Kabloona says she likes showing the traditional markings, which are commonly seen in her prints, in her work. “I’m part of the generation that’s coming back to what we were told wasn’t going to work for us, [after] colonialism tried to push us away from our culture.”