“Elvis” by Paulusikotak Alaku

By: Palmer Jarvis

Lot 103 – Paulusikotak Alaku ᐊᓚᑯ (1923-1971), Salluit (Sugluk). ELVIS, CA. 1963. Stone; unsigned; disc number inscribed. 5 x 5 x 3.5 in — 12.7 x 12.7 x 8.9 cm. Estimate $2,000-$3,000

In 1971 Paulusikotak Alaku disappeared along with brother Adami and cousin Quanak on a hunting excursion by canoe in the mouth of Salluit (Sugluk) Inlet. Important community leaders with large families, the three men were searched for extensively, but never found. (1)

Paulusi was a respected figure in Salluit who served on community councils from the beginning of local government, and later on the board of directors of the cooperative. He was also a talented artist.

The narrative content of early sculpture at Salluit was subject to restrictions imposed by the manager of the Hudson’s Bay store, as well as the proselytising efforts of missionaries. Artworks that did not meet the standards of managers were sometimes destroyed. Elvis narrowly escaped destruction in 1963 when it was saved by a public servant in Salluit, Archibald Frederick Flucke. (2) The image of the rock and roll artist, translated in stone by Paulusi, flew in the face of the idealized and narrow depictions of historic life in Salluit that were typically selected to be sent south by the Hudson’s Bay store in the 1950 and 60s.

Sculpted from stone atypical for Salluit, the exotic material for Elvis was likely imported to Salluit, and contributes to an appearance nearly unique to sculpture from the region.

Many works by Paulusi never reached outlets in the south, as his sculpture was often snapped up by visitors and local residents alike, who were intrigued by the artist’s skill and charismatic personality. (3)

The present work is published both in the 1984 book Norval Morrisseau and the Emergence of the Image Makers as well as in Sugluk: Sculpture in Stone in 1992. The sculpture is accompanied by an original letter from the publisher of the latter, enquiring after the inclusion of the sculpture in the seminal text.


Held online from May 24-29, 2024, Waddington’s is pleased to present our major spring auction of exceptional Inuit & First Nations Art. Important artworks this season include works of sculpture and graphics by Karoo Ashevak, Jessie Oonark, Kiakshuk, John Pangnark, Pauta Saila, Aisa Qupirualu Alasua, Parr, Osuitok Ipeelee, Kiugak Ashoona, Joe Talirunili, John Kavik, Kenojuak Ashevak, Johnny Inukpuk, Thomas Ugjuk, Ennutsiak, Davidialuk Alasua Amittu, Beau Dick, Charlie James, David Ruben Piqtoukun, Abraham Apakark Anghik, Manasie Akpaliapik, Judas Ullulaq, Barnabus Arnasungaaq, and John Tiktak.

Previews will be available at our Toronto gallery, located at 275 King Street East, Second Floor, Toronto:

Thursday, May 23 from 10 am to 5 pm
Friday, May 24 from 10 am to 5 pm
Saturday, May 25 from 12 pm to 4 pm
Sunday, May 26 from 12 pm to 4 pm
Monday, May 27 from 10 am to 5 pm
Tuesday, May 28 from 10 am to 5 pm
Or by appointment.

Please contact us for more information

(1) A. Barry Roberts, The Inuit Artists of Sugluk, P.Q. (Quebec: La Federation des Co-operatives du Nouveau Quebec, 1976), 23.
(2) Elizabeth McLuhan and Tom Hill, Norval Morrisseau and the Emergence of the Image Makers (Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1984), 19, pl. 4.
(3) Roberts, The Inuit Artists of Sugluk, P.Q., 25

Related Works:
Waddington’s Auctioneers, Toronto, ON, 30 Apr 2012, lot 303a
George Swinton, Eskimo Sculpture (Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1965), 106.

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