“They are just my humble thoughts…they are thoughts I ponder upon” (1990)
Marion Tuu’luq is known primarily for her textile works but also produced graphic works, contributing to 13 editions of the Baker Lake print collection. Her work is tied to her homeland and her experiences of life as an Inuit person. Notably she began her artistic practice late in life, using the practical sewing skills she had learned as a child as a basis for her creative output.
She was born at her family’s camp at Innituuq, in the Utkuhiksalik area near the Chantrey Inlet. Her mother died prior to her first birthday, leaving her and her two older brothers in the care of her father, and other relatives. She enjoyed a close relationship with her father Ekinilik, who unfortunately committed suicide when Tuu’luq was around 10 years of age. She married her first husband at the age of 18. He died mysteriously in 1954. The following year she married Luke Anguhadluq. Throughout her two marriages she had 16 or 17 children. All but four of her children perished.
Tuu’luq lived a traditional nomadic lifestyle for five decades until 1961 when she and her husband moved to the settlement of Baker Lake to provide access to schools and medical care for their children. Between the years 1966 – 67 she began to use her sewing skills, in a project run by Elizabeth Whitton. During this time she created both modern and traditional style clothing out of wool duffle. She also found the time to experiment creating cloth pictures out of scrap material.
Two years later the sewing project was revived with the assistance of art advisors Jack and Shelia Butler. Tuu’luq was invited to participate. There she produced clothing items with embroidered designs. During this period she continued to explore materials and began to experiment with beading. In the early 1970’s Tuu’luq’s colour palette was rich with earth tones, however as the decade moved on she began to incorporate bolder colours into her work as seen in the 1978 piece People, Shamans, and Spirits
A key turning point in her career was her inclusion in the 1974 exhibition Crafts from Arctic Canada organized by the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council in Ottawa and shown in both Toronto and Ottawa. After this exhibition her work began to receive steady attention in the south. In 1989 a newly developed skin allergy to wool would force Tuu’luq to abandon her fabric work.
Tuu’luq was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1978 and received an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree from the University of Alberta in 1990. That same year UNICEF selected her work Harmony Between Man and Animals as an illustration for its North American Heritage Greeting-card series.