Simon Tookoome was an artist from Tariunnuaq (Chantrey Inlet), NU who lived with his family on the land. At different times in his life Tookoome was a fisherman, a builder, a teacher, a jeweller, an artist and carver with all professions imbued with traditional Inuit knowledge that he always wanted to share, of a traditional way of life.
Tookoome began by carving bone and soapstone in the 1960s but was more interested in drawing as it gave him greater artistic freedom. Tookoome’s graphic style is influenced greatly by his childhood, being raised on the land and hearing traditional stories from his family. Drawing ideas from the land around him Tookoome’s aesthetic engages with hybrid animals and shamanic practices, influenced by heavy contour lines and deep, saturated tones of colour. Utilizing a flat plane, Tookoome’s drawings have a graphic quality as well as a clear narrative. Looking at Rainbow Dance (2006) depicting two dancers and a drum, the figures are in profile, animated movements portrayed through the curves of contour lines. The drum itself radiates light through a saturated yellow colour, its rays linked to the decoration of clothing that adorn both figures. Community is depicted in the radiating heads of people and dogs, that are positioned like rays moving outwards from the drum, and at once encompassing the two figures.
Tookoome says he was encouraged to make textile work and wall hangings but prefers carving, drawing and jewellery. Best known for his graphic work, Tookoome has won the Norma Fleck Award for a children’s book titled The Shaman’s Nephew: A Life in the Far North, which he published with Sheldon Oberman in 1999. He was a founding member of the Baker Lake print shop and appeared multiple times in the Inuit Art Quarterly.