On The Tundra

18 Sep

Today was a big day for us here in Kangirqliniq (Rankin Inlet). We spent most of the day at the Matchbox Gallery, which specializes in the production of ceramics. We spoke to co-founder Jim Shirley about their approach to ceramics and what he calls the “literacy of touch” – the idea that there is a kind of language incorporated into building something with clay, that there is a kind of magic to the clay where every imprint and touch is visible. John Kurok also stopped by to work on a piece, which was exciting to see. We are going back tomorrow, so I will save most of the discussion of our visit for then.

Director David Harris at the Matchbox Gallery

Me at the Matchbox Gallery

Afterward, I had the opportunity to take a walk outside the community and onto the tundra. Now, I did not go out on the land – this was very close to Kangirqliniq – but the difference between this area and the community-proper was pretty stark. It was quiet, peaceful and full of plant and animal life – there really wasn’t anyone else around. I must have seen four or five siksiq (Arctic ground squirrels) while we were walking around and many more burrows.

Look carefully - you can see the squirrel in the grass.

Many people think the Arctic is always snow and ice, but that’s a misconception. There is a wide array of plant life there – grass, lichen, moss, flowers, berries… Walking along, it’s actually very squishy, which I didn’t expect.

I also saw an old tent ring – these were used hundreds of years ago to hold down tent flaps before the influence of qalunaat and the introduction of year-round housing. The entrance can be seen on the right side of the photo.

The old remains of a tent ring

I hope this gave you a glimpse into what the tundra is like and what kind of diversity you can find there. I’ve uploaded some extra photos of our trip to Facebook and Flickr, so check them out.

Posted by: Alysa Procida, MIA’s Educational Coordinator

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