Martin Goodliffe

North Slave

Artist Story

I initially moved to Dawson in 1978, planning to find some work in a gold mine. However, when that fell through I soon got another opportunity to move to Inuvik and that was the beginning of my life in the North. Throughout the following years, I got to see nature first hand – whether from the seat of a snowmobile or from a boat – and all those experiences gave me tremendous inspiration. I am also very thankful to have been surrounded by art throughout my life and to have been encouraged by amazing northern artists and mentors.

Making art is exhilarating to me, it gives me a sense of purpose and it makes me feel like I have something to offer. When I was a child, going through school was challenging and I always thought I wasn’t good enough, but now I know that art is something that I can shine at. I have always wanted to keep pushing the envelop: my first ring was square, and my first sculpture of a bird looked like an airplane: it’s been a progression ever since! Now, I can do most everything from rings, to pendants, to earrings, to sculptures and carvings. I also free draw everything, so each piece I create is unique.

When I eventually decided to focus my energy on jewelry making, I enrolled in a two-year Jewelry Metal Work course at Arctic College, where I learned how to work with metals and organics. That experience helped me develop my own style. Nature is central to my art and my inspiration mainly comes from the materials that I use. There is so much to play with in nature! I look at metals, I look at organics, and they all speak in their own way. That is how I create.

In my artwork, I love to be different and I like to think outside the box. I love the fact that I can take something from nature and modify it so it becomes something that people want to wear. I really care about what I do and I always hope people can see where my inspiration came from. I also truly appreciate learning from the people I encounter along the way. It’s always nice to collaborate and share.

Artist Bio: 

Martin Goodliffe is a Northern Canadian jeweller and artist. He makes his home in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. He has for many years worked at a variety of jobs across the high arctic, in communities such as: Sachs Harbour, Cambridge Bay, and Inuvik, all the while pursuing his interests as a Northern artist, teaching arctic jewellery making, and spokes person for the Arctic Experience. For nearly a decade, Marin has pursued a variety of arts programming, studies, teaching assignments, and participated in exhibitions. He is a member of a number of major Northern arts associations, the Aurora Society, the Artists of the South Slave, and the Yellowknife Artists Guild. He has participated on a regular basis at the Open Sky Festival, National Aboriginal Day Celebrations, and repeatedly at the Great Northern Arts Festival. His presence at the Great Northern Arts Festival has been significant, having repeatedly taken The People's Choice Award for Best Artist, and the Artist's Choice Award for Best of Show. His work, his dedication to his craft, and his gracious outgoing manner have won the respect of his peers and the appreciation of the public. Nearly a decade ago Martin decided to commit his energies fully to jewellery making in the Canadian arctic. He took it upon himself to enroll in the Arctic College's "Jewellery and Metal working" program, graduating with honors, his work speaks fully to the arctic experience, employing a broad range of Northern motifs for his jewellery designs, and incorporating a wealth of indigenous Northern materials such as Yellowknife gold, Yukon mammoth ivory, walrus ivory, fossilized materials from the Arctic Ocean, musk-ox horn, caribou antler, and buffalo horn. All of this is not surprising, as Martin is directly descended from one of Canada's greatest artists of the last century, the painter Emily Carr, who was Martin's father's great aunt. He regularly is asked to demonstrate his craft at special events.

Last Updated: February 27, 2020

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