Her mother passed away before Marion was a year old. Her father committed suicide when she was ten. Her first husband died mysteriously. Marion had sixteen children but only four survived.
Until Marion Tuu’luq was in her early 50s she lived a nomadic life in the harsh landscape of the Back River area of Nunavut. Food was often scarce, modern medical care was not available and the natural environment was filled with inherent dangers. Hard to believe that a woman who survived all that would create something as joyful and lovely as the beautiful wall hanging above.
Marion moved to Baker Lake in 1961 with her second husband Luke Anguhadluq to have access to schools and medical care for their family and it was there in 1967 that Marion began to develop her artistic talents using some of the sewing skills she had learned as a child.
Marion began by creating traditional style clothing with embroidered designs and then with the encouragement of art advisors Jack and Sheila Butler began doing large-scale wall hangings. Often she planned these rich, colorful pieces ahead of time but according to an article by Marie Bouchard called American Woman Artists of the Twentieth Century at times she simply picked up her scissors and started cutting images developing a theme as she went along.
In 1974 the same year she made the wall hanging Thirty Faces above Marion’s work was included in an exhibit called Crafts From Arctic Canada in Ottawa and Toronto. After this Marion’s work received a great deal of attention. She became a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1978, and subsequently earned an honorary degree from the University of Alberta. You will find her work in galleries across Canada as well as in the National Gallery in Ottawa.
Sadly Marion developed an allergy to wool in 1989 and that ended her creation of richly textured and appealing wall hangings. Marion died in 2002 at age 92.
The three wall hangings included in this blog post are all currently on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery as part of the exhibit called Nivinngajuliaat which means ‘wall hanging’ in Inuktitut. So you have a chance to see Marion’s work first hand along with other talented artists who created wall hangings in the Baker Lake community.
Marion was 57 years old when she started her artistic career and 64 when she really started to make a name for herself in the art world. Inspiring stuff for those of us in that age range who are still trying to discover and hone our various artistic talents.