Big day for Baker
New exhibit unveiled July 1

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

Baker Lake (Apr 05/00) - Canada's birthday won't be the only thing to celebrate July 1.

A celebration of Inuit culture and art will also take place when a new exhibit is unveiled at the Baker Lake Inuit Heritage Centre.

The idea for the exhibit first came to light a couple of years ago when Toronto's Sven and Ethel Spefic visited Baker. The centre's curator, David Webster, says the Spefics have been collecting Inuit art for many years. Much of that art was stored at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Sven suggested the Inuit Heritage Centre should have an exhibition of early Baker Lake carvings.

"We decided to go ahead and the project grew beyond our wildest dreams," says Webster.

A total of 34 pieces will be arriving for the big day. The exhibit will then visit the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Que., Art Gallery of Ontario and legislative assembly in Iqaluit among others.

"It's going to travel for two or three years, so I don't want anything leaving Baker Lake that's Mickey Mouse. It's very important to us that only top-quality pieces are involved."

The exhibit has been catalogued and all surviving artists interviewed. Webster says the new exhibit is different from ones southern curators select pieces for.

"We show the artist slides of their work being shown in Toronto and ask which ones to include in the exhibit. The artists themselves are choosing what pieces go in."

Webster says the Inuit Heritage Centre's reputation for quality is growing with its volume.

"We've borrowed from so many places in the past. Now we've become big enough to start putting out and we're very proud of that."

A Toronto-based designer came up with pedestals for the art to be displayed on, which are near completion.

"We're told the pedestals are absolutely stunning. The display will be in an almost circle shape, and there will be an introductory panel and a sound system which is like a big lamp shade. The system is triggered by motion and you only hear the dialogue when standing under it."

The display will remain in Baker until Christmas before heading to Winnipeg, its first stop.

"We already have some 50 visitors confirmed for the unveiling on July 1. This exhibition is going to be pretty special."