Annie, unscripted

During this rare time of being homebound, I, like many, have taken some time to look back at old travel memories. I was reminded of the time I spent with artist Annie Pootoogook, who I had the great fortune of knowing and travelling with over a number of years. We went to Scotland, Germany, Switzerland, Calgary, Montreal as well as our own hometowns of Kinngait and Toronto. As can be seen in the selection of images below, Annie often made drawings based on photographs taken during these travels as ways of re-living her memories.

Many know Annie through her art and the articles and essays written about her. After her passing in 2016, the press focused heavily on negative stories, shrouding her wonderful character. I hope that this selection of photographs can shed some light on the Annie that I knew—someone who was kind, generous, and very much enjoyed new experiences in the company of others. All in addition to being a remarkable artist.

-Pat Feheley

Annie signing her print depicting the glasses of her grandmother, Pitseolak Ashoona, in 2007. Her smile was beautiful, it lit up her face and reflected in her eyes.

Annie based this drawing on a photograph of her and sculptor Isaaci Etidloie outside our gallery in 2003. We were holding solo exhibitions (her first) for both her and Isaaci at the time. Artwork: Annie Pootoogook, Annie and Isaci at Opening, 2003, ink, 20 x 26 in.

Although I first saw Annie’s drawings during a visit to Kinngait in 2001 (subsequently included in the group exhibition The Unexpected), we did not meet until 2003 when I visited the Co-op to prepare for her 2003 solo exhibition. We met, fittingly, under a framed photograph of her grandmother Pitseolak Ashoona drawing in bed.

Showing recent drawings in the Kinngait Studios in 2003.

In 2007, Annie travelled to Scotland for two months for the international artists residency at Glenfiddich. The cottage that was assigned to Annie overlooked the ruins of Balvenie Castle. She later depicted the castle in a drawing. This drawing was used as the cover of the exhibition catalogue for her 2007 exhibition at the Alberta College of Art and Design.

Artwork: Annie Pootoogook, Balvenie Castle, 2006, coloured pencil and ink, 30 x 44 ½ in.

The Glenfiddich residency put together artists from around the world and Annie became good friends with several of them. Jay McDonnell, who accompanied Annie on the trip, is on my right.

We took Annie on a driving trip to Balmoral Castle where she had her first encounter with a Bagpipe band. She would later make a drawing remembering the bagpipes.

Artwork: Annie Pootoogook, Bagpipes, 2006, coloured pencil and ink, 20 x 26 in.

Annie found a crab during our visit to West Sands Beach.

In the fall of 2006 with Shuvinai Ashoona (left) in the Co-op.

Budd Feheley with the three cousins – Siassie Kenneally (far left), Shuvinai Ashoona (second from right) and Annie (right).

Annie after winning the 2006 Sobey Art Award, the pre-eminent award in Canada for artists under the age of 40, held at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

In front of her installation with myself (left) and curator Nancy Campbell (right), which Annie later translated into a drawing.

Artwork: Annie Pootoogook, Group Portrait (Pat, Annie, & Nancy), 2006., coloured pencil and ink, 22 x 30 in.

At Art Toronto 2006 in the Feheley Fine Arts booth.

At Art Toronto 2006 in the Feheley Fine Arts booth.

Trip to Calgary in early 2007 for the opening of Annie’s ACAD exhibition. Curator Nancy Campbell is working on the installation of Annie’s drawing Cape Dorset Freezer while Annie talks with a reporter, and catches up with the time zone in the next photo.

Annie watching the installation of her show.

The Annie smile, at the ACAD opening.

Spring 2007, at Documenta, the prestigious invitational contemporary art exhibition, held every five years in Kassel, Germany. Annie and I are in front of the main building where she had just registered. Annie made history as the first Inuk artist to represent Canada at Documenta.

Lunch in Basel.

After Documenta we travelled to Art Basel. Annie was amazed at the different installations, especially the video works.

The Annie smile.