As a departing gift to Canada, The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, former Governor General of Canada, decided to mark the occasion by commissioning the making of a hockey trophy. She followed the steps of Lord Stanley, the Governor General of Canada from 1888-1893, who gifted the Stanley Cup to the excellence in men’s hockey. However, Mme. Clarkson had a different idea. She wanted the cup to be for a relatively new sport that was gaining momentum and public interest. The Clarkson Cup was to be for the sport of women’s hockey and to celebrate the excellence of their play. Clarkson also took a further step and sought to have the cup be a unique piece of art which was hand crafted by artists who were a blend of native and non-native individuals. With her true passion for the north she commissioned Beth Biggs, the Senior Instructor of the Fine Arts and Crafts Program of Nunavut Arctic College to make the trophy in conjunction with some of Biggs’ graduates who are Inuit artists.
Beth Biggs, RCA, was contacted to make the Clarkson Cup in August 2005. Biggs oversaw the design and construction of the Cup. At the request of Mme. Clarkson, Biggs worked with distinguished artists Okpik Pitesolak, Pootoogook Qiatsuk and Therese Ukaliannuk.
Because of technical requirements, the Cup was produced in 3 locations in Canada. The stem and handles were hand made by Biggs at the Metals Studio of Brigitte Clavette RCA, at the New Brunswick College of Craft and Design in Fredericton. The main cup was spun by Mathieu Isabelle in Montreal at Desmarais & Robitaille Silversmiths, where the reproduction of the Stanley Cup was made. Once the construction of the Cup was completed the Cup was brought to Nunavut for the decoration of the surface of the Cup..
Biggs, who was recently elected to membership in the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in recognition of her outstanding artistic achievements in the visual arts in Canada, knew she wanted to make a cup that was classically beautiful and feminine. The design of the cup is clearly classical with a large central cup and handles on each side. The stem of the cup is slender and gracefully supports the Cup. The handles, which are hollow formed by synclastic sinking, give the cup a posture of confidence and stature. There is definitely a sense of contentment and celebration about the object. The images on the cup are a blend of native and non-native designs.