Inuit Art

November 19, 2019

LOT 53

Lot 53

JESSIE OONARK, O.C., R.C.A. (1906-1985)

JESSIE OONARK, O.C., R.C.A. (1906-1985)
Lot 53 Details
JESSIE OONARK, O.C., R.C.A. (1906-1985), Baker Lake / Qamani’tuaq


double-sided, stroud, thread, embroidery floss
signed in syllabics, c.1976

27 x 60 in — 68.6 x 152.4 cm

Estimate $40,000-$60,000

Lot Report

Additional Images
JESSIE OONARK, O.C., R.C.A. (1906-1985)
  • JESSIE OONARK, O.C., R.C.A. (1906-1985)

Private Collection, Winnipeg
Upstairs Gallery, Winnipeg


Art Gallery of Ontario, The People Within (1976) exh cat


Spirits and Dreams: Arts of the Inuit of Baker Lake, The Raven Gallery, Minneapolis, 1979


As one of the most admired artists from Baker Lake (Qamani’tuaq), Jessie Oonark is recognized as a highly-talented graphic artist, but her most powerful expressions are achieved in her works on cloth. Her imagery is drawn from traditional Inuit life, which she had a strong desire to document.

On one side of this double-sided wall hanging, Oonark depicts a traditional summer scene: three Inuit on kayaks with seasonal tents in the background. Two large birds happily greet the kayakers as they arrive at their campsite. Minimalistic facial profiles and embroidered lines are major design elements of her work, as are symmetrical compositions.

Typical of her oeuvre, these components are also seen on the reverse of this work. In this scene, two rows of heraldic figures greet each other, eleven on each side. There is a subtle break in the lower line of people though - one lone, dramatically-embroidered bird spirit reaching out - a small departure that breaks the symmetry and enlivens the whole textile.

Oonark's wall hangings have a captivating presence. Their size, intensity, and technical brilliance have attracted many fans over the years, and are found in major private collections around the world, with the largest example in the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.


For condition information please contact the specialist.

LOT 53

About Condition Ratings

  • 5 Stars: Excellent - No discernable damage, flaws or imperfections
  • 4 Stars: Very Good - Minor flaws or imperfections visible only under close inspection using specialised instruments or black light
  • 3 Stars: Good - Minor flaws visible upon inspection under standard lighting
  • 2 Stars: Fair - Exhibits flaws or damage that may draw the eye under standard lighting
  • 1 Star: Poor - Flaws or damage immediately apparent under standard lighting (examples: missing components, rips, broken glass, damaged surfaces, etc.)

Note: Condition ratings and condition details are the subjective opinions of our specialists and should be used as a guide only. Waddington’s uses due care when preparing condition details, however, our staff are not professional restorers or conservators. Condition details and reports are not warranties and each lot is sold “as is” in accordance with the buyer’s terms and conditions of sale. In all cases the prospective purchaser is responsible for inspecting the property themselves prior to placing a bid.