By Sean O’Malley, Senior Writer
CAMH patient Simon Shimout (aka Napayok) began learning how to carve while growing up in Rankin Inlet, Nunavut.
“I’ve been carving for a long time,” says Simon. “Mostly soapstone or alabaster or Caribou antlers. But I’ve never done anything like this before.”
This refers to his winning design for the CAMH Therapeutic Art Installation project, an 18-foot long sequence of nine tiles carved from Algonquin limestone now embedded in one of the walls in the lobby of the newly opened McCain Complex Care & Recovery Building.
Like many Indigenous visual artists, Simon sees his creations as a form of storytelling. He describes the nine tiles, all of them containing imagery derived from his Inuit culture, as like chapters in a book, each one telling an aspect of his journey of transformation and recovery.
- A group of fish swimming in a circle represents the cycles of life
- A dancing polar bear represents being happy in the moment
- A man turning into a bird represents moving forward and feeling free
“The eagle is flying high, watching out for other people, keeping an eye on them and making sure they are safe,” says Simon.
The overall theme of the piece, he says, is transformation.