GARMEL RICH – NLAC Hall of Honour Inductee 2012

Garmel Rich is a Labrador grass basket maker who has elevated the traditional Inuit craft of weaving grass to a level of artistry that is unmatched. Born in Bluff Head in 1939, north of the Inuit community of Rigolet, Garmel began weaving grass at age 7 and by her teens was already adept at the craft.

In 1958, she moved to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, where she continued to sew a variety of her coveted grass baskets and mats. Garmel began sewing in 1979 after attending courses at a trade school and at the Friendship Centre.

Selective over the grass, Garmel specifies the need to wait until the end of October, so it’s tonally the same colour – often pinks, greens, whites, and purples. Garmel has always preferred grass from Rigolet or North West River. She only rarely uses dyes from natural berries and plants to accent her work, which is delicate, subtle, and sewn to the highest standards.

Garmel’s pieces have been included in a number of exhibitions, shows and festivals. She has also given workshops in basketry and taught the art to her daughter Josie. Garmel loves the challenge of making non-traditional pieces as well, including a 1996 piece that was a 12 inch high replica of the Stanley Cup made for her son, as well as a model boat with a motor.

As an Inuit elder, she continues to weave beautiful grass pieces with galleries, museums, and eager collectors worldwide seeking to include her work in their collections. Garmel has come a long way from the times when she made many versions of a single item before she felt it was of a good enough quality to put in a church sale, where she sold her first piece.

For more info on the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council visit www.nlac.ca

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