Nunatsiaq News
NEWS: Around the Arctic August 28, 2012 - 8:05 am

Winnipeg Art Gallery displays new collection of carvings by Inuit artists

"A very impressive collection"

Oviloo Tunnillie's
Oviloo Tunnillie's "Woman playing Accordion" from 2005 is one of 121 carvings recently donated to the Winnipeg Art Gallery by Bob and Marlene Stafford. (PHOTO COURTESY OF THE WAG)

If you’re in Winnipeg between now and this coming January, you will want to pay a visit to the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

Earlier this year, the Winnipeg Art Gallery received a donation of 121 carvings by Inuit artists, which were acquired over the past 20 years by Winnipeg collectors Bob and Marlene Stafford.

Now, a selection from their collection is on display at the gallery in an exhibition which opened last weekend.

“Once he began collecting, Bob Stafford admits he got ‘carried away’ but the result is a very impressive collection,” said Darlene Coward Wight, the gallery’s curator of Inuit art. “It includes works by such established artists such as Osuitok Ipeelee, Davidee Atchealak, Kiugak Ashoona, Luke Anowtalik, Nuna Parr, and Abraham Anghik Ruben, as well as by younger artists who are becoming known for their original subjects and expressive means. It’s interesting to see how the younger artists have been influenced by their elders, such as Ashevak Adla, grandson of noted Cape Dorset sculptor Audla Pee.”

The works are mainly from the 1980s to the 2000s and fill important gaps in the gallery’s collection, a recent news release said.

Some of the later carvings in the collection, such as the elegant caribou by Osuitok Ipeelee, are considered as “signature works” for the artists.

Stafford also acquired earlier pieces from the 1960s and 1970s by such artists as Karoo Ashevak, John Tiktak, John Pangnark, and Vital Makpaaq.

“This extraordinary gift and exhibition is the perfect lead-up to the launching of the WAG’s centennial legacy project — the building of the Inuit Art and Learning Centre,” said the gallery’s executive director Stephen Borys. “It reconfirms exactly why we are building this centre for the people of Canada and all visitors to Winnipeg.”

The $45-million Inuit Art Learning Centre will be located at the south end of the gallery’s triangular property, bordered by Memorial Blvd., St. Mary Ave., and Colony St. in downtown Winnipeg.

“In addition to providing a home for the over 11,000 Inuit artworks, the Centre will be a place for more specialized study and interpretation of the collection by artists, scholars and historians, and students of all ages,” Borys said.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery is home to a collection of more than 26,000 works of art, which includes many works of Inuit art which the museum has bought or received as donations.

In 2006,  H.G. Jones, an American historian from North Carolina, who collected a total of 140 works by Pangnirtung artist Andrew Qappik over 31 years, gave his collection to the Winnipeg Art Gallery.

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