Over the past decade, jewellery artist Jamie Look has achieved plenty of public milestones.
From exhibiting at the 2010 Winter Olympics to being named one of Canada’a “brightest style setters” by the Globe and Mail to Tanya Tagaq showcasing her work on her Polaris Prize-winning evening, Look has plenty to celebrate. The Globe feature even brought an order from the famous McMichael Art Gallery gift shop — home to one of the world’s largest collection of Group of Seven works — making her the only NWT artist whose work is sold there.
Her beautiful jewellery pieces have also been worn by prominent leaders and musicians to other high-profile events such as The Junos, the Indspire Awards (National Aboriginal Achievement Foundation), the National Aboriginal Music Awards and the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s closing events.
These national achievements came about following plenty of hard work. They’re also the result of plenty of support received from fans and supporters across the North, one of whom is Gallery of the Midnight Sun owner Lisa Seagrave.
About 10 years ago, Look was encouraged to visit the gallery to sell some of her avant-garde, northern work. Seagrave bought six pieces, one which sold the same day while the rest went within a week or two. “She’s been with me as I’ve morphed my style,” says Look of Seagrave. “And I’ve always been thankful for that.”
Artist Jamie Look
“She’s also the first one who purchased my work and is my primary retail gallery to this day,” Look says. “She’s very supportive to myself and the arts community in Yellowknife. I would almost put her as an unsung hero. She never wants a lot of credit for what she does, but that’s her way. I don’t think I would have pursued a new, innovative style of product, if she hadn’t supported me as she has from the beginning.”
That focus on supporting innovation and art is largely why Look says the Yellowknife gallery gets the best, and most creative, selection of her work. ”She doesn’t order from my catalog or my website, she lets me create freely. She lets me be an artist. She lets me play,” says Look.
Born and raised in the NWT, Look is a third-generation northerner. She’s also a trained fashion-designer-turned jewellery artist who now transforms natural northern materials, such as muskox horn, into beautiful works of art.
“It’s layers of colour and there are transparencies and it’s opaque,” she says of the horn. “The 3D layer of colouring is always exciting to the eye and particularly exciting with the sun shining through it. As with any organic material, every horn is different and each resulting piece is unique.”
Look is proud to support northern hunters through purchasing raw materials. “I like to know the animal is being treated fairly and that the animal is being used,” she says. “I also like to support northern hunters because my family were northern hunters.”