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Artist captures scenes of traditional life

Terry Kruger
Northern News Services
Monday, June 25, 2007

COPPERMINE - John Allukpik lets his art do his talking.

The Kugluktuk man was the centre of attention recently at a gathering in his community's airport terminal.

He speaks softly, his voice hard to hear above the commotion in the packed terminal building.

Sitting in a wheelchair, he handed a stack of oil paintings on cardboard to the crowd.

They circulated around to a group of visitors to the community, eliciting "oohs" and "ahhs" as they go.

Quickly, the works depicting tradition scenes, hunters on the land, iglus and dog teams are bought.

"I started painting a long time ago, when I was young ... around 1953," he said.

He stopped painting for about 20 years, but picked it up again and remains an avid artist, creating about seven paintings each month.

Allukpik's works range in size from 16"x20" paintings to 24"x30".

The ones he had available on this day were Arctic landscapes, showing shining ice, snow and the sun low on the horizon. Each painting takes from three to four hours to complete, he said.

Through a translator, Allukpik said he paints each work from memory, letting his knowledge of life on the land guide his hand to paint scenes of traditional life.