Inuit Sculpture

Inuit Carvings

Various Artisans  Price Range: $300 – $8500

Ning Ashoona - Biography


Date of Birth : 20 December 1979

Place of Birth: Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay)

Residence: Cape Dorset

Style Description: Distinctive style. Simplistic, yet strong but can be delicate and graceful depending on the subject matter. The transformations are creative and fantasy-like. Her replicas of vehicles or chairs are realistic, in proportion and functionality.

Artist Development: Ningeosiak, the youngest daughter in the family, says that she was taught to carve by her father and mother. She started carving at 13 years of age. Ningeosiak is one of the most prolific young female carvers in Cape Dorset today and one of the very few women who carve. She has also tried drawing but it did not hold as much appeal for her as carving did. Ningeosiak uses both hand and power tools. The power tools allow her to speed up her production, but she needs the hand tools to do fine work. Carving is time consuming, but because her family depends on the income from her artwork, she must hurry up the process.

She does not have the past as a frame of reference for her work; she values the comments people make about her work because they help to give it meaning. She much prefers creating new subjects to repeating old ones, unless a particular subject matter is in demand.

Etulu Etidloie - Biography

Etidloi, Etulu

Etulu Etidloi (1946 – )

Date of Birth : 15 June 1946

Place of Birth: Tulukanni

Residence: Cape Dorset

Family: Son of renowned carver Etidloi Etidloi.

Style Description: Whalebone pieces have strong, simple forms. With his stone pieces, surface and texture become more important for him than form.

Artist Development: Etulu Etidloi worked before he turned to carving between 1063 and 1965. while he was making his first carving, of a woman, he accidentally broke her legs off. She still sold for a lot of money, and that convinced him that he should continue carving. He learned by watching his father Etidloi carve. He says that loons have been his primary subject for almost 25 years because he keeps on getting requests for them. The shape of the stone dictates what Etulu will make. He rotates the piece of stone until the form suggests a subject. In the past his subject matter included dancing bears, however he stopped making them in preference to detailed loons because he is inspired by them.

Although Etulu’s work has been shown in both Montreal and Ottawa, he says he carves to support himself, not to be exhibited. When he looks at other artists’ work, he sees things that he would not have thought of carving himself. As far as his own work is concerned, he says “I try my best.” In the 1960’s Etidloi and his stepmother Kingmeata, a renowned graphic artist, settled permanently in Cape Dorset and both became artist-members of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-op.

Isaci Etidloie - Biography

Etidloi, IsaciSave

Isaci Etidloie

Date of Birth : 15 November 1972

Place of Birth: Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay)

Residence: Cape Dorset

Family: Son of renowned carver Etulu Etidloi.

Style Description: Family resemblance to the work of his aunt Omalluk Oshutsiaq and his father Etulu. Decorative elements consist of texture, polished and matte areas. Figures are strong and substantial, as opposed to delicate and finely executed.

Artist Development: At the age of 7 Isaci disobeyed his father’s words, “Don’t touch my tools!” He views himself as having been a rebel; however, he philosophically says that having disobeyed his father got him where he is today artistically. He started off by using hand tools, but in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, he added power tools to the selections of hack saw, chisels, and files he was already using. Isaci used to watch his father carved and be paid for his labour after a few hours, where as his mother way paid every two weeks. The idea of being paid in two hours rather than two weeks appealed to him enormously and perhaps influenced his decision to drop out of school.

Isaci prides himself on doing work differently from others. He credits Jimmy Manning for having encouraged him to make different work. Jimmy told him, “If you are going to keep doing this and not go back to school than you have to try to do different things.”

Isaci prefers to work on larger pieces because he finds details such as muscles and veins easier when he is working on a larger scale. He likes to challenge himself in whatever work he does. He enjoys doing something different that will “catch the eye of the beholder.” He does not carve polar bears or walruses, as he considers them “too simple.” He prefes the more difficult work of creating complex pieces with different materials. Using antler, ivory and stone to sculpt a transformation piece of an animal turning into a human, which he considers the most challenging of all work.

He has exhibited in Canada the United States and Belgium. His work has captured the attention of Christine Lalonde at the National Gallery. Recently his work was part of an exhibition entitled Inuit Sculpture Now 2007 at the National Gallery.

Joanasie Manning - Biography


Joanasie Manning (1967 – )

Joanasie Manning has lived in Cape Dorset all his life. Joanasie’s mother, Annie Manning, has worked in the north and south as a translator for English and Inuktitut. She is also well versed in the art of sewing and doll making. Joanasie’s grandfather, Osuitok Ipeelee of Cape Dorset, is a well known carver from whom Joanasie openly admits he has drawn not only his inspiration but from whom he has learnt to sculpt.

Joanassie, who began carving at the age of twenty, credits his grandfather, the renowned carver Osuitok Ipeelee, as a great influence on his work. After carving sporadically for a number of years, Joanassie is now working more consistently. He has evolved a personal style that is becoming stronger and more confident as his primary love of owls evolves through his sculpture. His depiction of owls generally with their chicks shows that despite his strength there is an underlying paternal instinct.

Pudlalik Shaa - Biography


Pudlalik Shaa

Date of Birth : 29 December 1965

Place of Birth: Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay)

Residence: Cape Dorset

Family: Son of renowned carver Axangayu Shaa.

Style Description: Naturalistic birds and animals that are stable and well balanced.

Artist Development: Pudlalik started carving at the age of 12 after watching his father Axangayu Shaa and others carve. He received two dollars for his first carving, which was either a seal or a polar bear – he could not recall exactly which he did first. He began to support himself through his art at the age of 17 and has done so ever since. Unlike the youth of today, he learned and used hand tools exclusively – a saw, an axe, a rasp, and various files. It was only 10 years ago that he started using power tools. Each carver has a personal preference in terms of size. Some want to carve only large pieces, and others are quite content to do small works. Pudlalik normally carves relatively small to medium-sized pieces except when he goes to the quarry and is able to bring back larger pieces of stone.

He produces usually one sculpture per day, sometimes two. In what appears to be a common practice, his partner, Ita does the sanding. He says that is he had more time he would do better work, but the constant pressure of feeding his family daily restricts his ability. He does enjoy the work and would like his children to continue the carving tradition. Pudlalik is especially conscious of form with his transformation pieces, which are composites of different animals combined with a human face or figure. Many of his birds and transformation figures are finely balanced on one leg. This well-balanced, stable character is noticeable in the majority of Cape Dorset pieces and is likely attributable in part to the discriminating buyers who form their principle market.

Johnny Manning - Biography

Manning - Artworld Fine Art

Johnny Manning

Date of Birth : 30 March 1985

Place of Birth: Iqaluit (Frobisher Bay)

Residence: Cape Dorset

Style Description: Individualistic, impressionistic.

Artist Development: Johnny Manning Jr. started carving when he was 14 or 15 years old. Although his first piece started off being carved from a 20 pound piece of stone, by the time he was finished the seal was “blubberless”! He had taken away so much stone that all he was left with was a “skinny seal.”

Johnny learned to carve by watching the renowned Nunjaliaq Qimirpik when he visited Cape Dorset. Johnny would show Nunjaliaq his animals, and the older carver would say, “You are becoming pretty good!”

Today Johnny has greater dexterity and is more experienced. He uses a variety of power tools to assist him in carving, from a 7” disc grinder to an angle grinder to a Dremel tool. For the finer details, he uses his hand tools like a chisel. Johnny’s work varies from traditional to modern. With his modern work, he likes to make a statement.

Johnny likes to challenge himself by creating unique works. He works from an idea or a concept, which is a different approach from those carvers who just carve a particular animal repeatedly.