Five Highlights from Our Inuit & First Nations Art Auction

By: Palmer Jarvis

Waddington’s is pleased to present a selection of exceptional Inuit & First Nations Art in our major spring auction, held online from May 24-29, 2024. Below we have highlighted five works selected by our specialists which span the 1950s to the contemporary period, though we invite you to browse the full gallery for yourself.


Lot 164 – David Ruben Piqtoukun ᑎᕕᑎ ᐱᑐᑯ ᕈᐱᐃᓐ (b. 1950), Paulatuk, SEVEN STONES, 1992, stone; signed in Roman; dated without rocks. 16 x 13 x 8 in — 40.6 x 33 x 20.3 cm. Estimate $3,000-$5,000

David Ruben Piqtoukun ᑎᕕᑎ ᐱᑐᑯ ᕈᐱᐃᓐ (b. 1950), Paulatuk, SEVEN STONES, 1992

The joy of hearing stories told by his mother and grandmother about shamanism and traditional beliefs influenced a young David Ruben Piqtoukun and has spawned images recurring throughout the artist’s career. Images of flight appear throughout the oeuvres of Piqtoukun and his brother Abraham Anghik, and are said to originate in the supposed otherworldly travels of their grandfather, a reputed shaman. (1)

Of the present work, Seven Stones, published in Harold Seidelman’s and James Turner’s The Inuit Imagination: Arctic Myth and Sculpture, it has been said “The shaman’s soul is leaving his body lying within a tent ring, Seven Stones representing the bondage to the human world. The stones have been used to hold down a tent. They may be used again to surround a final resting place.” (2)







Lot 165 – Bill Nasogaluak ᐱᐃᓪ ᓇᓱᒐᓗᐊᒃ (b. 1953), Tuktuyaaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), VOYAGE OF LOST SOULS, 2013, stone; signed in Roman; dated. 11 x 21.5 x 6.25 in — 27.9 x 54.6 x 15.9 cm. Estimate $4,000-$6,000

Bill Nasogaluak ᐱᐃᓪ ᓇᓱᒐᓗᐊᒃ (b. 1953), Tuktuyaaqtuuq (Tuktoyaktuk), VOYAGE OF LOST SOULS, 2013

The art of Bill Nasogaluak, an accomplished self-taught sculptor, painter and instructor originally from Tuktoyaktuk, Northwest Territories, has garnered notable curatorial and collector attention in recent years.

Nasogaluak has created a body of distinctive, socially conscious artworks, sometimes wry in humour and often unflinching in their directness. His imagery draws on Inuit shamanism and mythology, as well as both Inuit and Western art historical traditions to investigate a wide range of the artist’s experience. Artworks confront issues as diverse as climate change, self-harm, depression, and the impacts of industry in the North.

In a 2020 interview, Nasogaluak explained the impetus for a related artwork addressing alcoholism, relaying that his cousin suffered from alcohol addiction, ultimately taking his own life. (3) Voyage of Lost Souls addresses the traumatic path of those who are victim to the illness, and addresses the potentially intergenerational nature of its repercussions.





Lot 176Charles Joseph (Boone) (b. 1959), Kwakwaka’wakw, CROOKED BEAK MASK, 2002, cedar, paint, operculum, shredded cedar bark; signed and dated; with stand 30 x 21.5 x 8 in — 76.2 x 54.6 x 20.3 cm. Estimate $6,000-$8,000

Charles Joseph (Boone) (b. 1959), Kwakwaka’wakw,

The Crooked-beak mask, or galukw’amhl was traditionally made as part of a suite of Hamat´sa masks, which as a group are among the most dramatic in the Kwakwaka’wakw sculptural tradition. The galukw’amhl is danced by an initiate of the Hamat´sa society who personifies one of the lively associates of the cannibal spirit Baxwbakwalanukwsiwe’. The right to dance a galukw’amhl and other costumes of the Hamat´sa society are valuable inherited prerogatives, indicative of status and wealth.

The present mask is sculpted by Kwakwaka’wakw master carver Charles Joseph. Joseph’s work is found in public and private collections in Canada and abroad, and has been on display in the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Montreal, QC, and Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, MB.








Lot 198 – Attributed to Noah Kudlu ᓄᐊ ᑲᓚ (b. 1912), Kuujjuarapik (Great Whale River), SEATED MOTHER AND CHILD, CA. 1954, stone, ivory, pigment; unsigned. 9 x 6 x 5.5 in — 22.9 x 15.2 x 14 cm. Estimate $5,000-$7,000

Attributed to Noah Kudlu ᓄᐊ ᑲᓚ (b. 1912), Kuujjuarapik (Great Whale River), SEATED MOTHER AND CHILD, CA. 1954

Very little is known about the artist Noah Kudlu outside of what can be learned from the handful of sculptures attributed to the artist. Born in 1912, Kudlu is recorded as having lived in the areas around Kuujjuarapik (Great Whale River), where fellow early artist Johnny Inukpuk was born in 1911. (4)

An enigmatic and finely wrought portrait bust of a woman by the artist made circa 1954 and held in the collections of the Canadian Museum of History was chosen to be included in both the landmark 1971 publication Sculpture/Inuit, as well as in George Swinton’s definitive early reference, Sculpture of the Eskimo in 1972. Another work by the artist, an exceptionally fine walrus by Kudlu, dated to 1960, is held in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. (5)

Several aspects of Seated Mother and Child show strong similarities with the 1954 portrait bust by Kudlu. The sculpture is confidently developed and the work of a skilled artist. Both sculptures are made from a coarse stone of variegated texture, much harder than the soft argillite for which Sanikiluaq (Belcher Islands) region sculptures are best known. Of particular note are the closeness in the quality and style of the ivory inlay in the two works, the facial structure of the heads, and upward cast of the figure’s faces.




Lot 201 – Aisa Qupirualu Alasua ᐊᐃᓴ (1916-2003), Puvirnituq (Povungnituk), MOTHER WITH CHILD IN AMAUTI, CA. 1955, stone, ivory, sinew; unsigned; disc number inscribed. 8.5 x 10 x 7.5 in — 21.6 x 25.4 x 19.1 cm. Estimate $10,000-$15,000

Aisa Qupirualu Alasua ᐊᐃᓴ (1916-2003), Puvirnituq (Povungnituk), MOTHER WITH CHILD IN AMAUTI, CA. 1955

One of the early masters of Puvirnituq (Povungnituk) sculpture, Aisa Qupirualu Alasua (sometimes Kopeekolik) made his first stone carvings at the behest of James Houston, who visited the coastal camps around Puvirnituq in the spring of 1950. (6) An exceptionally gifted artist, Qupirualu was generally recognized within his community as the most talented among his Puvirnituq peers: no mean feat considering his contemporaries Charlie Sivuarapik and Samisa Ivilla. (7)

Tightly composed and finely polished, Mother and Child in Amauti, from ca. 1955 is bristling with fine detail. Early Puvirnituq sculpture often incorporated components made from ivory or bone. The use of these contrasting materials was a necessity for artists, who wished to include fine detail in the unforgiving stone of the region. The visual effect of the contrast draws the eye to the essential features of the face, or the tools fundamental to survival. Mother and Child in Amauti, more than any other work by the artist, reveals Qupirualu’s mastery of this technique. The contrasting eyes, teeth, ulu and other essential implements give the portrait an undeniable intensity.






Available for bidding until May 29, 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) Darlene Coward Wight, Between Two Worlds: David Ruben Piqtoukun (Winnipeg: Winnipeg Gallery of Art, 1996), 3.
(2) Harold Seidelman and James Turner, The Inuit Imagination: Arctic Myth and Sculpture (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1993), 203, pl. 169.
(3) Feheley Fine Arts. “Bill Nasogaluak: Shapeshifter.” YouTube video, 1:17. March 26, 2020.
(4) Daniel Chartier and al. “Inukpuk, Johnny.” Inuit Literatures ᐃᓄᐃᑦ ᐊᓪᓚᒍᓯᖏᑦ Littératures inuites. 2018-2021.
(5) The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cat. No. 1970.45.29.
(6) Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955 (Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 2006), 123.
(7) Wight, Early Masters, 123.


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