Arts·Artspots

From the archives: If you can't win the Stanley Cup, make one

Garmel Rich uses traditional Inuit techniques to create just about anything she can imagine. Watch a clip from her episode of Artspots.

Garmel Rich uses traditional Inuit techniques to create just about anything she can imagine

Inuit tradition meets the NHL. Garmel Rich made this replica of the Stanley Cup in 1996. (Artspots)

From 1997 to 2008, CBC's Artspots profiled more than 300 Canadian artists from across the country. We're sharing re-edited cuts of the vintage videos this winter.

Name: Garmel Rich

Hometown: Rigolet, N.L.

Artspots appearance: 2002

16 years ago...

Of all the sculptures you'll see in Garmel Rich's episode of Artspots, the most unusual standout is her take on hockey's greatest prize: a 12-inch tall replica, made out of natural wild grass.

Born in Labrador in 1939, Rich grew up making Inuit grasswork crafts, and back when her episode of Artspots ran in 2002, the show published a bit of that origin story on their website.

"When I was a little kid, there wasn't very much to do. There was radio, our dolls, probably a snakes and ladders game, and that was entertainment...unless you got on your dog team and went to a bigger community for a dance or something," said Rich.

"When we were growing up, almost everybody was doing grasswork. Most of the women would be sewing at night time, after supper. I guess I must have been seven or eight when I started trying to imitate the grass sewers."

I'll think about something that I'd like to make, and I'll make it.- Garmel Rich, artist

And when Artspots visited Rich at home, she was a long-established master of the form, known for creating both traditional items — baskets, bowls, mats — along with more unexpected sculptures of her own design — small model motorboats, houses and, of course, a certain hockey trophy.

In the case of that Stanley Cup, Rich said the idea actually came from her son. He asked her to try making one. And as she told Artspots, while her work might appear untraditional, there was nothing all that mysterious about her points of inspiration.

As Rich put it: "I'll think about something that I'd like to make, and I'll make it."

Today...

Starting May 26, visitors to the Winnipeg Art Gallery will be able to see a selection of Rich's grasswork as part of SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut. It's a touring exhibition, and the first major art show dedicated to Labrador Inuit that's ever been held outside the region.

Winnipeg is just the most recent stop for the event, which has previously appeared at The Rooms in St. John's and the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia.

Watch her on Artspots:

Garmel Rich art uses grass as a thread. 0:41

Garmel Rich. Grass Fruit Basket (2015). Grass, raffia. 10.16 x 26.67. (The Collection of the Nunatsiavut Government. Photo: Ned Pratt Photography)
(Artspots)
(Artspots)
(Artspots)

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