2011 Pangnirtung Print Collection Introduction
Kyra believes that images and techniques need to evolve over time and not remain static. For the art to remain vibrant, there needs to be innovation, and artists need to take risks and push themselves to grow artistically. To this end, she brought master printmaker Peter Braune of New Leaf Editions, Vancouver, BC, to Uqqurmiut in the fall of 2011 to conduct a workshop for Pangnirtung artists. (The 2010 Print Collection also followed on the heels of six workshops).
As a result of the workshop, four new artists participated in the collection. Eena Angmarlik was both the artist and printmaker for Tinirnirmiutait ('from the shore'). Tyler Kilabuk, the youngest participant in the collection, is a high school student at the Attagoyuk Ilisavik (the Attagoyuk High School in Pangnirtung). He produced Approaching the Kill. Because Tyler was so keen to attend the workshop, the school principal gave him credit for attending in lieu of school. Another newcomer to the collection is Evie Anilniliak, whose delightful image entitled Muminguatut ('square dancing') was stencil-printed by master printmaker Josea Maniapik. Evie is a friend and contemporary of Elisapee Ishulutaq, Pangnirtung's most illustrious female artist. Another newcomer to the collection is Ooleepa Papatsie. Her delightful images of the old days - Ready to Go Out, Arriving at the Camp, Walking the Dogs, Fetching Water, and Walking to Fetch Water - stylistically are somewhat reminiscent of the drawings by Parr of Cape Dorset from the 1960s.
The technique of reductive relief, never before done in Pangnirtung, was introduced during Peter's workshop. A relief image is printed from the top surface of a block of wood, stone or linoleum. (See the 2010 Pangnirtung Print Collection catalogue). Areas that will not be printed are cut away. Andrew Qappik's stone cut print Traditional Polar Bear Hunt is an example of this technique. Not many stone cuts have been produced at Uqqurmiut in recent years.
Reductive relief printing is a way of making a multicoloured image from only one block, as opposed to multiple blocks. A reduction print is one that has several states or stages. Each state is printed in a different colour. When cutting the second state, the artist "reduces" or destroys the first state. The block is destroyed in the process, so it is not possible to go back and re-do a state or colour. Elisapee Ishulutaq's Kanguq ('snow goose') is a stunning example of this technique. When Josea heard about the workshop, he told Kyra that he would not be participating. She told him that this was fine and that his participation was entirely up to him. However, by the end of the workshop Josea had been enticed to try this new technique, with extremely positive results.
Other new techniques included in the 2011 Collection were Viscosity Collagraph, A la poupée, Softground, and Spit Bite. As some of these techniques have yet to be tried at Uqqurmiut because of their complexity, the resulting prints were executed in collaboration with New Leaf Editions.
International Formation: Two Canadians, one American & one German Fly the Arctic, Elisapee Ishulutaq's print of airplanes, had the background or negative space printed at New Leaf, but the aircraft were done at Uqqurmiut. For the background, Peter Braune created a collagraph plate (handmade using textures) to retain the colour, character, and integrity of Elisapee's sky and printed it, using an intaglio technique (printing the portions below the surface of the plate) and several inks of varying viscosity, at New Leaf. The airplanes were stencil-printed by Jolly Atagoyuk, a longtime printmaker at Uqqurmiut.
Elisapee Ishulutaq's print entitled Happy Warriors came about as a result of her decorating a combat helmet to use in the Patriot Love fundraiser for injured Canadian troops and their families. Her delightful and colourful images of warriors lent themselves ideally to a horizontal print format. New Leaf etched the plates using a technique called spit bite, in which acid is mixed with gum Arabic and applied directly onto the plate to achieve a more spontaneous result.
The prints were then printed in color using the French technique à la poupée, in which colored ink is applied directly to a plate's surface and worked into the appropriate area of the design using cotton daubs called dollies, or in French, poupées.
The workshop also identified a young and talented new printmaker, Robbie Pitsiulak. Robbie's father was renowned artist Lypa Pitsiulak, who died two years ago. Robbie learned to draw Ooleepa Papatsie's images on the plates without compromising the integrity of the artist's work. He has an amazing natural ability to print an edition of prints consistently-no mean feat for one starting out.
Piona Keyuakjuk's work was first featured in the 2010 collection. This year he has two prints, which again reflect his shaman roots. His work narrates the stories he heard about his family when he was growing up out on the land. In the vivid blue print, Instructing Shaman Helper, he portrays his great-great-grandfather, who is instructing the bird on how to find animals. The bird, thus empowered, would be able to show hunters where to find food. In the dramatic black-and-white relief print, Piona's grandmother rewards the hunter for a successful hunt. Otherworldly creatures witness the reward, again alluding to Piona's interest in shamanism and the supernatural.
Andrew Qappik, perhaps the most famous two-dimensional artist in Pangnirtung, is underrepresented in this collection, mainly because of the many competing demands on his time. He receives many invitations that may conflict with the activities in the print shop. His contributions to this year's collection are traditional and classic. His Traditional Polar Bear Hunt is executed on stone, and Creature is classic Pangnirtung print imagery.
The 2011 Collection is colourfully eclectic, yet contains traditional imagery as well as exciting, new and different work!Kyra Vladykov Fisher, MFAX