Inuit Fine Art Gallery
Port Hope’s first fine art gallery specializing in Inuit art.
Art - Community - Culture
Bringing communities and cultures together through inspiring works of art.
From the 1960‘s through to today…
Inuit Fine Art is Port Hope’s first fine art gallery specializing in Inuit art. The unique and inviting gallery space – located in the heart of historic Port Hope – features original prints, drawings and sculpture from Cape Dorset, Nunavut, home of Canada’s oldest and most renowned Inuit arts Co-operative. Now known as the Kinngait (pronounced “King-ite”) Studios, the Co-operative is owned and directed by its Inuit members, who support the economic development of their community through the sale of their art to an international audience. Fifty percent of every work sold at Inuit Fine Art gallery goes back to support the Co-operative in Cape Dorset.
Inuit Fine Art gallery showcases stonecuts, stencils, lithographs and etchings from the 1960‘s through to today. These prints are not commercial reproductions. Each impression is inked and pulled by hand, and each is signed by the artist and includes the signature ‘chop’ of the printmaker and the studios. Because of the time consuming processes involved, editions are strictly limited to fifty. When you purchase an original print from Inuit Fine Art gallery, you are buying a work of fine art from one of the oldest and best printmaking studios in Canada.
“Beautiful work!” are the words I hear most often as people browse the gallery. “So full of life and spirit!” There is no question that Inuit art resonates with many people in a meaningful way. In addition to limited edition prints, the gallery also exhibits original drawings. Dramatic, northern landscapes, fine line drawings of Arctic animals and Inuit legends reinterpreted in contemporary form – drawings have become a vehicle for some of the most exciting and innovative work to come from Cape Dorset in recent years. Complementing the works on paper are stone carvings, the medium in which Inuit artists demonstrate their acclaimed technical ability and craftsmanship. Working with serpentinite stone indigenous to south Baffin Island and polishing it to a high sheen, Cape Dorset carvers have always stretched the possibilities of the medium. Bears balanced on one leg appear to be dancing; loons swim silently side by side and the Canada goose preens majestically. When carving, there is a direct bond between the medium, the environment and the history of Inuit culture.
Books, paper products, fine crafts and unique jewellery created by some of the North’s most talented jewellers and silversmiths round out the gallery selection. Tying it all together is the mission of Inuit Fine Art gallery in Port Hope: to bring communities and cultures together through inspiring works of art!
Inuit Fine Art gallery represents the work of the older generations and the new, in styles that range from the traditional to the contemporary.
About The Artists
Port Hope’s first fine art gallery specializing in Inuit art.
Original and enigmatic.
For more than sixty years, the artists of Cape Dorset have been captivating audiences with works of art that express their Arctic world and way of life. They have become internationally acclaimed, and represented by galleries across Canada, the United States and Europe. I am delighted to be among them, and to be surrounded by such beautiful and inspiring work. During my many years living in Cape Dorset, I came to know most of the artists personally. They do not think of themselves as ‘artists’ in our understanding of the word. In fact, there is no equivalent word for art in their language. One of the words used for art in Inuktitut is isumanivi, which means, “your own thoughts.” In the early years, when drawing especially was a new and unfamiliar task, people would frequently ask, “what should I draw?”, and the answer was, whatever comes to mind, or isumanivi – think your own thoughts. The great joy and discovery for all who were unfamiliar with the Inuit imagination was the originality and aesthetic of those thoughts.
Very few Inuit artists have any formal training. Carvers learn the techniques and skills from watching their elders and trial and error. The Kinngait studios provide drawing paper and materials to anyone who wants to try, encouraging those who show some talent and interest. In this way, the first generation has now given way to the fourth. Inuit Fine Art gallery represents the work of the older generations and the new, in styles that range from the traditional to the contemporary. Their approach to their subjects is rooted in their cultural traditions, especially the connection to the land and animals of the Arctic on which they depend for their livelihood and lifestyle.
It has been my experience working with Inuit artists over many years and several generations that these immensely talented and generous people are motivated by their desire to share their world and way of life with the rest of Canada and the world.
A Storyteller at Heart
Ningiukulu (Ning) Teevee is one of the most original and talented artists working in Cape Dorset today. Every year in the fall, the Kinngait Studios release a collection of limited edition prints representing Cape Dorset’s best graphic artists. Ningiukulu’s first images were included in 2004, immediately catching the attention of both dedicated fans and new admirers of Cape Dorset prints. She has been represented every year since, and both her prints and original drawings are now highly sought after by collectors. She has had many exhibitions at commercial galleries, and last year she had her first solo exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery, which opened at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Ningiukulu’s work is both traditional and contemporary. Like most Inuit of her generation, she grew up in the community of Cape Dorset but close to the land and deeply connected to the lifestyle and traditions of her culture. The inspiration behind much of her work comes from traditional Inuit stories and legends. Epic myths like Kiviuq, the Arctic hero and adventurer; Sedna or Talelayu, the goddess of the sea, and fables like the Owl and the Raven are some of her favourite subjects. At heart, she is a storyteller, and, as she says: “I think in pictures.” The tales come to life in her drawings, often with an original, modern twist.
Ning is an observant and careful artist with a natural flare for design, composition and movement. Her line is confident and free flowing, evoking the changing current of the Arctic ocean or the peaks and valleys of the Arctic tundra. Her respect for tradition and custom is filtered through her thoroughly modern sensibility and an off-beat sense of humour, leading to insightful and sometimes caustic comment on the realities of life in the new north.
Stay tuned to March, 2019, for the publication of a monograph on Ningiukulu’s career that I am currently writing. This is the second in a series published by Pomegranate (Portland, Oregon) – the first took an in-depth look at the life and work of the remarkable Tim Pitsiulak, whose career ended abruptly and too soon with his premature death in 2106, just short of his fiftieth birthday.