NUYALIAQ QIMIRPIK (1937-2007)
an Ottawa private collection
Most people think of Nuyaliaq Qimirpik as a carver of muskoxen. But for a period of perhaps no more than three years in the late 1960s, a small group of carvers in Kimmirut, led by Nuyaliaq, created a remarkable group of spirit carvings, apparently at the request of a local schoolteacher named Tony Whitbourne who was buying carvings for the government for a time – and then stopped. The same sort of spiritual flowering of art had occurred in nearby Cape Dorset in the early 1960s, in both graphic art and sculpture; however that florescence was more sustained, is far better documented, and never completely died out. Nuyaliaq’s Horned Spirit and Owl is one of the most important examples of this style that we have seen. It is every bit as poetic and haunting as the Cape Dorset examples we know and admire, and it is incredibly charming to boot. Wonderful stuff.
References: for other fine spirit sculptures by this artist see Bernadette Driscoll, Baffin Island (Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1983) cat. 57, or Darlene Wight, The Swinton Collection of Inuit Art (Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1987) cat. 134; Maria von Finckenstein ed., Celebrating Inuit Art 1948-1970 (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 1999) p. 129; George Swinton, Sculpture of the Inuit (McClelland & Stewart, 1972/92), fig. 517. For a similar work by Nuyaliaq’s brother Shorty Killiktee see Ingo Hessel, Inuit Art: An Introduction (Douglas & McIntyre, 1998) p. 93.
First Arts: Inuit & First Nations Art Auction www.firstarts.ca