CLASSIC INUIT is an exhibition of extraordinary sculpture by pivotal Inuit artists. Many of the works are rare and definitive, signature pieces in both style and substance. Some are exceptional examples of regional characteristics and others are early pieces by some of the most beloved Inuit artists. It is a pleasure to be able to share works by artists considered masters of the art form, many of whom are, sadly, no longer with us. We are equally pleased to showcase works by living artists who represent both the first generation as well as a select few of the talented newer generation.
The Inuit Gallery of Vancouver's reputation for exhibiting the finest in Inuit art work since 1979 has provided a sense of confidence to many collectors when it comes time to part with art works they have acquired. Trusting that the pieces they have loved and cherished for years will find new appreciative homes through our efforts. It has been through such circumstances over the past several years that we have diligently acquired a significant number of the works that we have included in CLASSIC INUT. These pieces, selected from various private collections many of which were assembled decades ago, each carry a story of its acquisition and often, priceless memories of the artists.
One particular story is well worth relating. Several sculptures are from one individual who lived with her husband, daughter and little dog in the Arctic from 1970 to 1976. The husband was a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot and was stationed in Arviat, then known as Eskimo Point. Used to moving regularly, they took part in many community activities and quickly made friends. But it was the craft shop, then operated by Gabriel Gely, that our collector found herself visiting daily. There she learned from Gely about Inuit art but it was her personal esthetic sense that dictated her large collection. Because she was genuinely interested in the people and had such a terrific sense of humour, she became friends with many of the artists, in particular Elizabeth Nutaraluk Aulatjut. On one of her regular visits, Nutaraluk brought her infant grandchild with her. With the baby wrapped in her arms, she began singing and gently rocking the child back and forth. With her own daughter grown, our collector picked up her little dog and joined Nutaraluk rocking and singing to their 'babies'. Nutaraluk collapsed in laughter! That Christmas, Nutaraluk visited with a gift, a sculpture of a woman rocking her dog.<BR>
It is sometimes with mixed emotions that collectors release their art works, but it is always reassuring to know that their works will find new homes with equally passionate collectors among our extended family of Inuit art lovers.
Director and Curator