Nellie Winters

Nellie Winters is an established artist who works out of Makkovik, NL. She was born in Okak Bay, NL, but in 1956 her family was relocated to Makkovik. She first learned to sew as a child in boarding school, where she was taught how to embroider the popular inukuluk designs of Inuit figures frequently applied to textiles such as tablecloths and duffel coats [1]. Since then, she has become a technically proficient and prolific artist in a variety of mediums such as garments, textiles, embroidery, jewellery, dolls, grass weaving, and more [1]. As a mother  and grandmother to several other well-known artists such as Dinah Andersen, Jason Jacque, Polly Jacque, and Roxanne Nochasak, among others [2], and as a teacher, Winters has passed on her knowledge to many younger artists.

After finishing school, Winters refined and diversified her skills as an artist, remaining self-taught [3]. In her earlier years, she created many grassworks and embroidered pieces with her mother, and made essential items for daily life, such as sealskin boots and mitts [4]. Over the years, some of Winters’ other works include: coats, caps, dresses, beading, jewellery, carvings, wall hangings, purses, paintings and a lamp [5].

Winters is regarded as one of the most influential artists in the Nunatsiavut region; she has a distinct style, technical proficiency, and a strong role as a mentor in the community [6]. Winters continues to thrive on learning new techniques, producing a range of objects made from a variety of materials, such as grasswork, embroidery, moose hair tufted objects and dolls [7]. Winters is well-known as a garment creator and has a keen eye for proportion [8], producing intricate custom designed clothing such as seal skin parkas, boots, mittens and hats [9]. She has worked with these materials over decades and has an intimate knowledge of them. Being an artist, Winters also appreciates experimentation and sometimes transforms practical objects into works of art through unexpected materials and embellishments [10]. Her knowledge and sensitivity to fit and style, as well as her creativity and proficiency in elaborate stitching—such as waterproof stitching—makes her an exemplary artist [11]. In her garment piece Short Tail Sikipak with Embroidery (2015), Winters has created a beautifully shaped jacket with her trademark intricate embroidery visible on the hood, sleeves, and hem.

Winters’ work has been shown in multiple exhibitions and is collected by museums and private collectors throughout Canada and internationally [12], as well as being featured in books. Her work is housed in the Confederation Building and has been commissioned by galleries such as The Rooms, both in St. John’s, Newfoundland. In 1972, she was invited to demonstrate her work at the Montreal Olympics [13]. Most recently, her work was featured in the touring 2018 exhibition SakKijâjuk: Inuit Fine Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut.



Citations/Footnotes

1.Heather Igloliorte, “Women of Labrador: Frontrunning Inuit Artists Josephina Kalleo, Garmel Rich, and Nellie Winters”, Inuit Art Quarterly 28, no. 3-4 (2015): 52-57.
2. Ibid.
3. Heather Igloliorte, SakKijâjuk: Art and Craft from Nunatsiavut(Fredericton: Goose Lane Editions), 57.
4. Straight Up North, “Nellie Winters”, accessed January 30, 2019 from http://straightupnorth.ca/Sikuliriji/MK-ProjInfo_files/Nellie%20Winters.pdf
5. Ibid.
6. Heather Igloliorte, “Women of Labrador: Frontrunning Inuit Artists Josephina Kalleo, Garmel Rich, and Nellie Winters”, Inuit Art Quarterly 28, no. 3-4 (2015): 52-57.
7. Nunatsiavut: Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage, “Nellie Winters”, accessed January 30, 2019 from http://www.michnunatsiavut.org/nellie-winters.html
8. Heather Igloliorte, “Women of Labrador: Frontrunning Inuit Artists Josephina Kalleo, Garmel Rich, and Nellie Winters”, Inuit Art Quarterly 28, no. 3-4 (2015): 52-57.
9. Nunatsiavut: Mobilizing Inuit Cultural Heritage, “Nellie Winters”, accessed January 30, 2019 from http://www.michnunatsiavut.org/nellie-winters.html
10. Ibid.
11. Ibid.
12. Ibid.
13. Society of Ethnobiology, “Elder Nellie Winters speaks on the importance of home, Plenary Session: Elder Talks & Welcome”, accessed January 30, 2019 from https://ethnobiology.org/conference/abstracts/40/elder-nellie-winters-speaks-importance-home