KIAWAK ASHOONA, O.C., R.C.A., CAPE DORSET/KINNGAIT, E7-1103, Cape Dorset
signed in syllabics, dated ‘76
17.5 ins x 13 ins x 7 ins; 44.5 cms x 33 cms x 17.8 cms
Some of the finest carvings to come from the north were created in Cape Dorset. A stone excellent for carving, in beautiful shades of green was discovered near Markham Bay at the south Baffin Island coastline in 1954. The master carvers from this region, including Kiawak crafted works with great detail and finish. For a similar example, see the Klamer Family collection catalogue, Waddington’s, spring 2005, lot 127.
“When I carve... I will start from the head. I try to put down a lot of details in the carvings that I do. Sometimes I carve from my imagination and sometimes I carve what I have seen in the past.” He is the son of graphic artist Pitseolak and sibling of carvers, Kaka and Koomwartok. Kiawak has noted that he enjoys finishing his work with fine detail. He prefers to carve in seclusion so he can take his time to develop the work.
Kiawak’s depiction of bird spirits is rooted in the story of Natturalik (Golden Eagle). The story of Natturalik was told to Kiawak by the camp elders, including his father Ashoona and Kiakshuk. Wight & Routledge comment, “It [the story of Natturalik] clearly holds extraordinary significance in his art and in his imagination.”
This incarnation possesses the distinctive face and wings of the bird spirit, the body of the polar bear with seal flippers as feet.
Marie Routledge & Darlene Coward Wight, Kiugak Ashoona: Stories and Imaginings from Cape Dorset, 2010, pages 114-116.
Department: Canadian Fine Art