In August 2014, the owners of The Inuit Gallery in London retired after 30 years in business. They worked tirelessly promoting Inuit artists and helped build some important collections in the region.
Our April show, in the middle gallery, will continue this tradition in London and will feature a selection of prints from recent Cape Dorset Print Collections and a small suite of original drawings by Ningeokuluk Teevee.
Saimaiyuk Akesuk was born on April 28, 1988 in Iqaluit but she has lived in Cape Dorset her whole life. Her parents are Lau Akesuk and Olayuk Akesuk who was one of the first Members of the Legislative Assembly in Nunavut. Saimaiyuk was inspired to start drawing by Ningeokulu Teevee while they were taking a class together at the Nunavut Teaching Education Program. Saiimaiyuk’s confident drawings of birds and bears are characterized by her bold and dynamic simplicity rendered with soft tenderness and quite often a touch of whimsy. In 2013, David Blazer of Canadian Art Magazine picked Saimaiyu’s artwork as one of his top picks of the Toronto Art Fair.
Kenojuak Ashevak is one of Canada’s most acclaimed graphic artists. Her long list of achievements and honours is surpassed only by her stamina and good humour. Born on south Baffin Island at a camp area known as Ikirisaq, Kenojuak grew up traveling from camp to camp on south Baffin and in Arctic Quebec (Nunavik). As a young woman, she was married to Johnniebo and lived with him in various camps including Keakto, a scenic area seven miles from Cape Dorset. While still living at Keakto in the late 1950’s, both Kenojuak and Johnniebo first experimented with carving and drawing. They moved to Cape Dorset in 1966 in order for their children to attend school, and continued to work closely together until Johnniebo’s death.
Kenojuak’s drawings were immediately captivating, and she has been represented in almost every annual print collection since 1959. Her work has also been included in numerous special projects and commissions. In 1961 she was the subject of a film produced by the National Film Board about her traditional life and art. The film is still shown today, and was instrumental in introducing her to the world beyond Cape Dorset. In 1970 her print, Enchanted Owl (1960) was reproduced on a stamp commemorating the centennial of the Northwest Territories, and again in 1993 Canada Post selected her drawing entitled The Owl to be reproduced on their .86 cent stamp.
Kenojuak has received many special honours over the years. She is now a Companion in the Order of Canada, which she originally received in 1967. In 1992, she was awarded Honourary Degrees from both Queen’s University and the University of Toronto. In 1996 she received the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Aboriginal Achievement Awards Ceremony in Vancouver. In the spring of 2001, Kenojuak was inducted into Canada’s Walk of Fame, the first Inuit artist to be so honoured. In 2008 Kenojuak was awarded the Governor General’s Award for excellence in the visual arts. In January 2013, Kenojuak died peacefully at home surrounded by her loving family.
Shuvinai was born in Cape Dorset in August, 1961. She is the daughter of Kiuga Ashoona and Sorosilutu, both well known for their contributions to the arts in Cape Dorset. Shuvinai began drawing in 1995. She works with pen and ink, coloured pencils and markers and her sensibility for the landscape around the community of Cape Dorset is particularly impressive. Her recent work is very personal and often meticulously detailed.
Shuvinai’s work has attracted the attention of several notable private galleries, as well as public institutions. Shuvinai’s work is in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Winnipeg Art Gallery and Inuit Art Centre. She was featured along with her aunt, Napachie Pootoogook, and her grandmother, the late Pitseolak Ashoona, in the McMichael Canadian Collection’s 1999 exhibition entitled Three Women, Three Generations.
Shuvinai has worked with Saskatchewan-based artist, John Noestheden, on a “sky-mural” that was exhibited at the 2008 Basel Art Fair and was shown again at Toronto’s 2008 Nuit Blanche. It later travelled to the 18th Biennale of Sydney in 2012 and in 2013 it was a part of ‘Sakahans’, an exhibition of international Indigenous art at the National Gallery of Canada. In 2009, her work was presented alongside Toronto-based artist Shary Boyle at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery at Hart House. Shuvinai is also the subject of the documentary art film, Ghost Noise, produced and directed by Marcia Connolly. Shuvenai is slowly gaining more international attention and in 2013 she was included in the prestigious Phaidon publication , ‘Vitamin D2, New Perspectives in Drawing’.
Siasie Kenneally was born on May 29, 1969. She comes from a family of notable Cape Dorset artists. Siasie began drawing at the Kinngait Studios in the early 2000’s. Her striking iridescent print, ‘Fish Tails’ from the 2008 spring collection was a hugely admired etching/aquatint and she has displayed a remarkable faculty with the medium of oil stick on paper. Siasie tends to work on a large scale and her drawings are characterized by an intimate and contemporary approach to the depiction of traditional lifestyles.
Born in Kimmirut (Lake Harbour) in 1967 to Napachie (deceased) and Timila Pitsiulak, Tim has been living in Cape Dorset for several years now and has enjoyed working in the lithography studio with visiting arts advisor, Bill Ritchie. The land and its wildlife were initially the primary influences on Tim’s realist drawing style. Tim is a hunter and his respect for the natural world and its wildlife is fundamental to his artistic sensibility. Tim is particularly inspired by the whales that frequent the cold, Arctic waters – the beluga and the bowhead – because, as he says, nobody really knows much about them. The bowhead in particular is a majestic and mysterious creature and frequently he will embellish his drawings of these animals with ‘tattoos’ of ancient artifacts.
Tim’s work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. In 2012 he was featured in the summer issue of The Walrus magazine.
Born May 27, 1963, Ningeokuluk is the daughter of Joanasie Salomonie (deceased) and his wife Kanajuk. Her father, Joanasie, was much loved in Cape Dorset for his sense of humour, mischief and compassion. Ningeokuluk works full-time for the department of Housing in Cape Dorset, and devotes her spare time to her family and whatever time she can to her drawing, which she does at home. Since her first prints appeared in the Dorset Print collection in 2004, Ningeokuluk has been one of Kinngait’s studio’s most celebrated artists. She has a comprehensive knowledge of Inuit legends and a fine sense of design and composition. These elements that have made many of her prints and drawings highly sought after by collectors.
Ningeokuluk’s work is in the collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario, National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of Civilization. In 2009, Ningiokuluk’s first children’s book, Alego was short listed for the Governor General’s Literary Award for children’s illustration. Titled “Alego”, the book is an autobiographical story of a young girl named Alego who goes clamdigging with her grandmother for the first time and, along the way, discovers all of the wonders of the seashore.