Artistic Spotlight: Inuit Art

Nanavut is the largest of Canada's territories and provinces with a population of nearly 36,000, mostly Inuit. It's a sparsely populated enormous land mass, and it is home to a world-famous artistic community.

Just on the southwestern tip of Baffin Island lies Cape Dorset, affectionately, and quite seriously referred to as the Capital of Inuit Art. Also known as Kinngait in Inuktitut, one of the principal Inuit languages of Canada, the Cape has been inhabited by native peoples for over three thousand years and is currently home to some 1,400 residents.

Kananginak Pootoogook, Kayaker's Reflection

['Kayaker's Reflection' by Kananginak Pootoogook. Image by Quinn Dombrowski (CC BY-SA 2.0)]

Referring to Cape Dorset as a creative cultural hub is, well, justifiably spot-on. After all, Cape Dorset is an insanely creative artistic community well known globally for the quality of artwork, especially Inuit sculpture, drawing and printmaking – today's main economic activities. To say the area is beautiful undermines the breath-taking scenery and awe-inspiring wildlife. Perhaps that's one of the reasons it has been an important artistic centre for so long. The endless natural beauty and inspiration simply renders one speechless. Capturing this through visual arts offers more insight into the natural and cultural worlds, bringing you closer to their presence. 

Tourism brings in people from all over the world flocking to appreciate the native art and visit with the artists. And visit with the artists they so easily can. Stepping into Kinngait Studios, the graphic arts studio of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, you not only get the best venue for viewing Inuit art, you also have a good chance of meeting and visiting with the artists themselves. If a trip to Cape Dorset isn't in the cards, Kinngait Studios produces an annual collection of prints showcasing the best of Inuit art. The 57th Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection (2016) pays homage to Inuit art history and cultural heritage. Although not as likely to engage with the artists, you can find art from Cape Dorset's Inuit artists at galleries all over the world.

Many of Kinngait's artists have works of art that can be found on the secondary market including, Kenojuak Ashevak, Pitseolak Ashoona, Pudlo Pudlat, Siassie Kenneally, Kananginak Pootoogook, Itee Pootoogook, Napatchie Pootoogook, Pitaloosie Saila, Ningeokuluk Teevee, Pitseolak Niviaqsi, Jutai Toonoo, Toonoo Sharky and Nuna Parr. If you're an art collector and looking to invest in something on the secondary market, Waddington's of Canada frequently includes Inuit art in their fine art sales. The next live Inuit art auction will be held on 30 May and from 27 May - 1 June you can catch their next online auction. At QBI, we've been tracking open market Inuit art sales and offer an Inuit art index as a resource tool for collectors and investors. Here's what it shows as of today.