Inuit – Cape Dorset, Iqaluit, Kimmirut & Pangnirtung

Bearclaw is very pleased to offer the following Inuit Artists, some of whom are Master Carvers from Canada's North:  Kiawak Ashoona, Kovinaktilliak Tapangai, Kanaganak Pootoogook, Mathewsie Iyaituk, Toonoo Sharky, Ashevak Tunnilie, Peter Parr and many others.

Dorset is probably the most famous art-producing community in Canada's north.  With so many talented sculptors, there is bound to be a wide range of styles; however, a few generalizations can be made.  The Cape Dorset sculptural style is rooted in a love of naturalism and an interest in both wildlife and the spirit world, but has incorporated a love of the flamboyant, the dramatic and the decorative.  Sculptures exhibit a strongly stylized or elegant naturalism, and are generally highly finished.  One senses a certain self consciousness on the part of the artists, as well as a desire to manipulate the material to a high degree.  The stones, which may range from precious varieties, to white dolomite and other types as well, are often fashioned into almost impossibly thin shapes or delicately balanced works.  Favorite subjects include animals and mythological creatures.  The scale of these works is often as dramatic as their style.

The people of the Thule culture (ancestors of today's Inuit) migrated from northern Alaska around 1.000 A.D. and drove or wiped out the earlier Dorset inhabitants. Thule art was based on Alaskan prototypes; it included some human and animal figures, but consisted primarily of the graphic embellishment of utilitarian objects such as combs, needle cases, harpoon toggles and gaming pieces. The decorative or figurative incised markings on these objects do not seem to have had religious significance.

A colder climate disrupted the Thule culture in the 16th century, about the same time as contact with the white man began. Inuit began to barter with whalers, missionaries and other foreigners. Carvings of animals, as well as replicas of tools and western-style objects, most often fashioned from ivory, became common trade goods. The first few centuries of European contact are usually referred to as the Historic Period.

The contemporary period of Inuit art began if the late 1940’s. When the federal government recognized the potential economic benefit to the Inuit, it actively encouraged the development ant promotion of Inuit sculpture, greatly assisted by the Hudson’s Bay Company and the Canadian Handicraft’s Guild. Inuit owned cooperatives were established in the 1950’s and 60’s in most Arctic communities, as well as art marketing agencies in southern Canada. As well as providing much needed income in isolated Arctic villages, Inuit sculpture has achieved an international reputation as a major contemporary art form.
At first glance, Inuit sculpture may seem to be a relatively homogeneous art form but, in fact its subject matter and styles are richly varied. The Inuit population (about 25,000) is widely distributed across Canada's north, so that each of the 30 or so art-producing communities has developed its own favorite subjects and distinctive sculptural style.
The themes of Arctic wildlife and traditional Inuit hunting and family scenes are still popular, but spirit figures and mythological and shamanic images also abound. Styles, too, range from strict naturalism or decorative stylization to minimal abstraction and from brutal expressionism to whimsical surrealism. The personal styles of individual artists are readily identifiable by those who take time to look more closely.


Artist: Matt Ashevak
Region: Cape Dorset
Medium: Soapstone
Size: 18 x 9.5 x 5 Inches
Code No.: SN548
Price: $2,650.00


Artist: Jaco Ishulutak
Region: Pangnirtung
Medium: Soapstone
Size: 12 x 9.5 x 8 Inches
Code No.: SS1167
Price: $2,500.00


Artist: Toonoo Sharky
Region: Cape Dorset
Medium: Soapstone
Size: 8 .5 x 12.25 x 2 Inches
Code No.: SNA20
Price: $5,500.00


Artist: Kelly Etidloie
Region: Cape Dorset
Medium: Soapstone
Size: 5 x 11 x 7 Inches
Code No.: SN311
Price: $1,050.00