Northern Lights

What Do Pitseolak Ashoona & Lawren Harris Have in Common?


LEFT: Lawren Harris, North Shore, Lake Superior, 1926, oil on canvas, 102.2 x 128.3 cm, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa RIGHT: Pitseolak Ashoona, Women Juggling Stones, 1967, stonecut in green, yellow and red on laid japan paper, 30.6 x 42.8 cm; image: 25.4 x 33.5 cm, National Gallery of Canada, © West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative Ltd.

This past weekend the McMichael Canadian Art Collection opened “Northern Narratives,” which spotlights non-Aboriginal travellers to the North—including including Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Frederick Varley, and Sir Frederick Banting—who were driven to the Arctic by their idea of the North as a powerful, magnetic, artmaking place. Alongside their paintings the show features works on paper and sculpture by Inuit artists Pitseolak Ashoona (watch for ACI’s new book on her by Christine Lalonde being released in May), Tim Pitsiulak, Kananginak Pootoogook, Pudlo Pudlat, Napachie Pootoogook, and others. Collectively the vision of this diverse pairing of artists offers a compelling narrative of the northern landscape as a source of sustenance and spirituality. Also on show are not-to-be-missed film excerpts documenting Lawren Harris’s 1930 trip to the Arctic.