Artist Mike Mitchell said blue rope likely came to the North through commercial fishing, but has become an important tool for those who call the Northwest Territories home.
“This originally commercial fishing rope was planted like a giant bean and it has grown to epic proportions with uses that far exceed or surpass the commercial fishing industry,” Mitchell told CBC. the Trailbreaker host Loren McGinnis.
“Just walk down the street and once you notice it, the blue rope is everywhere.”
It’s a tool still used for fishing, as expected, but it’s also used in the field for camping or hunting, he said. He taught his child to tie his shoes with blue rope, and people even used it to repair snowmobiles.
These are the types of stories featured at the Snowking’s Winter Festival for a temporary exhibit Mitchell is curating called “Blurope.”
“What I did in this exhibit is just try to give some examples of how it’s used everywhere,” he said.
“It’s used in the field, it’s used in our homes, and it’s used in the snow castle,” he said. “It’s connective tissue, it’s binding that binds our stories together.”
Mitchell said the blue rope, like moose hide or birch bark, reflects the creativity of the artisans behind it.
“To appreciate the blue rope is to appreciate the people who use it,” he said.
Mitchell said the blue rope can be seen all over the territory, even in unexpected places.
“I noticed yesterday on the flag of the Northwest Territories that there was actually like a rippling blue rope across the top of the flag,” he said, adding that many would consider it to be of the Arctic Ocean – but for him, it’s a blue cord.
Anthony Foliot, widely known as Snowking, hailed the exhibit in a video on Facebook. He also made sure to jokingly call out the spelling.
“You have to come and see, it’s called Blurope, it’s a bit short in grammar because it forgot the vowels, but it’s a wonderful thing,” he said.
The exhibit is sponsored by the Art Gallery of the NWT and will be on view in the Snow Castle Chapel through March 20.