Inuit Sculpture

A selection of Inuit Canadian sculpture which have been brought together by Pat Feheley, Director of one of the last remaining commercial galleries in Canada dedicated exclusively to traditional and contemporary art from the Canadian Arctic and an expert on the work of Inuit textile artists.

The social and economic changes which took place in the Arctic from the 1950s onwards resulted in many of the Inuit leaving their traditional camps and moving to permanent settlements. To help with the transition into a cash economy, art advisors travelled to many of the communities to encourage the making of arts and crafts for sale, including skin purses decorated with skin patterning. The art of larger scale textiles developed in Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake), an inland settlement west of Hudson Bay, in the 1960s. Commercial materials – including duffel, embroidery floss and felt – allowed for the creation of larger wall-hangings. The most common technique involved the application of felt cut-outs on duffel, which were then enlivened by fine embroidery. Some artists created abstract designs, but most made references to traditional life.

‘The artists of this early period had all lived the traditional life and their subject matter was reflective of this. These small sculptures, made more naturalistic by the addition of inlay or implements, had a monumental quality that defied their small scale. Greatly sought after by collectors, these small works capture the essence of Inuit culture. Several pieces in this collection of works reflect this transitional moment. The majority of pieces however, celebrate the next stages in contemporary Inuit art—when the scale of sculpture increased and artists began to develop their own unique styles, occasionally abstracting elements for a new and exciting aesthetic.’ Pat Feheley

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