Simon Tookoome (1934 – 2010)
Baker Lake, Nunavut, Canada
My name is Simon Tookoome, I live in Qamanittuaq, Baker Lake. I am originally from Uqhuqtuuq, Gjoa Haven. I moved as a young lad to Baker Lake. I first got into hand drawings in 1970. I would take my drawings to the print shop and the buyer would rip them into pieces. Out of five drawings, only two were bought and the rest were torn to shreds in front of my face. It hurt me immensely, but I recalled my mother always told me not to be upset even if people were bad to me. My mother’s advice was my saving grace. After about a year, our boss, Jack Butler, told me my art would never be ripped up again. I have continued with my art up to today. My favorite drawing is of a man without-stretched arms on top of a mountain looking below at many people. I have done that piece a few times. In terms of carving stone, I saw others carving, so I also did soapstone carving as well. I recall that my first piece was quite large. With that piece, I bought a snowmobile. I was very euphoric. Snowmobiles were not that expensive back then.
My first art was a drawing I did before I moved to Baker Lake. When I came here, I saw my sister doing drawings and making money and I envied her. From there, I started to make drawings. I tried to look at other people’s work. I took what I liked and moved towards my own style of mythology and a bit or realism and mixed it together. I did Inuit legends of shamans and other Inuit stories and legends. I also tried to capture the past life of Inuit long since gone. I enjoy these themes immensely. My mother was my storyteller. As I lay in bed as a child, I would ask her to tell me stories. I also had a stepfather Tutanuaq; they were the ones that told me stories.
Since I started in 1970, I have received recognition for my work. The first time was in Montreal, where I helped open an Inuit art exhibition, and later in Winnipeg. And now, most recently, I was given an award in Iqaluit for my work as an artist.