Festival Info > Artists

2016 Artist Biographies

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John Sabourin - Carving - Yellowknife, NT

John is a Dene full time artist since 1995.  Capturing legends and stories creates a sense of awareness for John, allowing him to stop and experience the relationship between humans and nature.  He feels deeply privileged to be able to work at something he cares about so deeply, and enjoys sharing his art and knowledge with others.  John has sold to private collectors in Canada and the United States.  He has completed commissions and murals including a granite sculpture for the French Federation in Yellowknife, NT in 2005 and a painting for the City of Yellowknife Public Library in 2004.  In 1999, along with two other artists, John completed a five foot marble sculpture that celebrated the cultural diversity of Canada’s North.

Ryan Taylor - Carver - Tuktoyaktuk, NT

Born and raised in Tuktoyaktuk, Ryan learned to carve from his grandfather, Bobby Taylor Pokkiak and more recently from uncles Derrald and Ron Taylor and aunts Anne and Verna who helped him with carving details.  Working mostly in soapstone, Ryan carves primarily hunting scenes and the animals that he encounters on the land.  “I take lots of pride in my carvings, what I’m doing will last forever.  What I carve will be alive forever.”


Mary Anne Taylor - Carving - Inuvik, NT

Born in Tuktoyaktuk Mary Anne began carving 20 years ago, learning from her father and brothers.  She has exhibited her work locally and at many previous festivals.


Marion Taylor - Carving - Inuvik, NT

A younger carver from this talented family, Marion likes to make small innovative carvings and is always trying something new.  She has been involved in the Great Northern Arts Festival every year from a very young age.


Julia Pokiak Trennert - Tufting, Traditional textiles - Hay River, NT

While attending the Immaculate Conception Indian School in Aklavik, I learned the basics of moosehair tufting from Sister Beatrice Leduc.  After my marriage, I left the Delta region and moved to Fort Simpson, NT where I began to notice beautiful tuftings by a renowned tufter known as Grandma Lafferty.  I received a bag of moosehair from Emily George so I could practice tufting.  That was the beginning of a long learning curve for me.  After moving 25 miles south of Fort Providence, I would handle other women’s crafts, and when the demand for tuftings exceeded the products, I started tufting to fill the gap.  It was at this time that I met Bella Bonnetrouge, another world renowned tufter.  Mrs. Lafferty and Mrs. Bonnetrouge’s works of art inspired me to be creative and find my own unique style.  I had my first public show in Yellowknife in 1980’s and since then I have taken part in numerous festivals to promote my work.  In recent years, I have concentrated on creating miniature tuftings and am happy to say they have been well received and hang in homes all over the world.  

To keep my creativity flowing, I have branched out in beadwork and embroidery.  I get my inspiration from traditional clothing and also from other artists. I love experimenting with different styles and I never start a project until I have a mental image of it. I love the challenge of bringing my mental image to reality.


Lyle Trimble - Carver and Painter - Nanaimo, BC

Lyle preserves his memories and experiences from over thirty years of Arctic living in stone and canvas. The people, wildlife and scenery inspire him to create stone carvings and oil, acrylic, water colour and pastel paintings that he shares with the world. He is an established artist who now resides on Vancouver Island with his wife Mary.

Charles Trimble - Carving - Inuvik, NT

Born in Inuvik and from a talented family of artists, Charles is the grandson of Lyle Trimble and learned stone sculpture carving from his parents and grandparents.



Maidie-Anne Turner - Stained Glass & Painter - Inuvik, NT

Maidie-Anne creates stained glass art, paintings and carvings. From her beautiful home in Inuvik, Maidie-Anne forms her art from within all three mediums. Her private studio allows her the creativity to explore new mediums. She has been an artist at the Great Northern Arts festival for many years. Maidie-Anne enjoys meeting and learning from artists attending the festival. These exposures have inspired her to express her love for the North and Mackenzie Delta.


Margaret Vittrekwa - Sewing, beading - Fort McPherson, NT

Margaret is originally from Aklavik, NT and now lives in Fort McPherson in the Beaufort Delta region.  She learned to sew from the tradition of her Gwich’in family.  She has been sewing parkas, mittens, mukluks, slippers, hats, and canvas bags for over 60 years.  “My mother made all our clothes when we were growing up, that inspired me to do the same.”  If Margaret is not sewing for her many children and grandchildren, she is welcoming travelers off the Dempster highway into her craft shop. With her cheerful and open personality, Margaret enjoys visiting and sharing stories with all kinds of people.  


James Wedzin - Painting - Behchokö, NT

James is a Tåîchô artist, born and raised by his grandmother in the community of Behchokö, NT. James praises his grandmother for inspiring and encouraging his early interest in traditional art. He watched her intricate bead work endlessly and developed his own sense of style in his art.

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Artist Information

Apply as an Artist or Entertainer

If you are a visual artist or craftsperson living and creating art in the North (Yukon, NWT, or Nunavut) and are interested in taking part in the 2016 Great Northern Arts Festival please print and complete the following forms.

Your completed application and biography forms can be faxed (867-777-2017) to the Great Northern Arts Festival Office or sent by mail (P.O. Box 2921, Inuvik, NT, X0E 0T0).

We strongly encourage you to include slides or photographs of your work, as we need to see what you do. If you have digital photographs, you can e-mail them to us at (please remember to include who you are in the e-mail message).  

Our selection process will take place in March/April 2016.  

Next year's festival dates are
July 14th-July 23th, 2017.

Non-Northern Artists:

Please remember that it is our mandate to serve the community of Northern artists and craftspeople. Each year, though, we do try to bring several non-Northern artists to share their work and ideas. If you feel you have something particularly special to share, please contact us directly. Our budgets are limited, and we ask you to remember that most of our resources are dedicated to our mandated goals.

For non-northern artists, we will ask you for an application with the following additional information:

  • How you feel you can contribute to the festival.
  • How you feel the festival will benefit you.
  • To what degree will you require assistance with travel and accommodations.

Please keep in mind that we generally bring no more than five artists from outside the north - and those artists selected must fall within the boundaries of our theme for the season.


Interested in our line-up of artists at the Great Northern Arts Festival? Find our more about them here.

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