THE YELLOWKNIFE GUILD OF ARTS AND CRAFTS...
The Yellowknife Guild of Arts and Crafts is a society composed of volunteer artists, artisans, students and instructors passionate about learning and sharing art and craft skills in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.
The mandate of the Guild is to provide community education in arts and crafts through operation of a workshop facility, course instruction, public demonstrations and exhibitions, educational presentations, and provision of specialized workshops.
Classes and workshops taught by local and visiting instructors offer members the opportunity to develop skills in various Guild disciplines.
Well-equipped studios for both pottery and mixed media provide space for classes, workshops and open studio sessions.
Arts and crafts made by members are available at spring and Christmas sales, and through the summer shop operated in Fireweed Studio.
(adapted from an article by Ann Peters)
The Yellowknife Guild of Arts and Crafts was formed in 1946 and is one of the oldest craft guilds in Canada. Members originally joined because they were new in town, wanted to share their art with others, or needed an excuse to escape the house to socialize. Over 75 years later, the motivations of members are much the same, and the Guild is as important as when Yellowknife was just a conglomeration of mining camps. The Guild celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1996 with the "Many Hands" exhibition at the Prince of Wales Northern Heritage Centre. Another exhibition in 2016 commemorated the 70th anniversary of the Guild.
Dynamic people have always been in charge at the Guild. Ruth Stanton, a hardy northern nurse and first president of the Guild, set the example for all who followed. With Yellowknife’s ever-changing and growing population, many talented people have arrived at our doors over the years. Their contributions as instructors, motivators, board members and craftspeople have maintained and renewed the Guild over more than 75 years.
The Guild has changed and adapted over the years as Yellowknife grew and changed. Classes, meetings and sales have been in numerous locations including Con Mine, Negus, the old St. Pat’s school, Sir John Franklin High School, the Legion and Elks halls, the basement of the old library, rooms in the old City Hall, and the basement of the old Northern Health Building. A community partnership with the Catholic School board allowed the Guild space in a school art room for ten years. Since 2007, the Guild has occupied a 2-story building owned by YK Dairies, marking the first time we have paid rent in our history, but also affording the freedom to work in our own space any time and way that we please.
Teaching and promoting arts and crafts has always been the primary focus of the guild. Classes taught by local artisans have included sewing, leatherwork, copper enamelling, batik, fabric printing, basketry, jewellery making, weaving, knitting, bird carving, stained glass and pottery. Workshops taught by visiting instructors provide members with inspiration and new skills in all disciplines. Several hundred people each year take classes and hundreds more line up for our annual spring and Christmas sales. Since 1993, the Guild has operated Fireweed Studio as a summer sales shop.
Like many craft organizations, the Guild is characterized by scope and endurance. Members share with and support each other whether they dabble or devote themselves to their craft and whether their work is wild and woolly or precise and contained. The endurance of the Guild is a testament of its worth to the community.