Pangnirtung artists launch first print collection since 2011
Uqqurmiut centre shows new prints from 2018 at Nunavut Arts Festival
Copper-etching plates used by famous Pangnirtung artists deck the walls of a spacious print shop at the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts.
A few steps away, there’s a worktable stacked with old catalogues from print collections past, launched over the years by the Uqqurmiut Artists Association.
But there hasn’t been a collection catalogue made since 2011—the last time a print series was released in Pangnirtung.
That’s going to change on Sunday, July 8, when Uqqurmiut artists release the 2018 Pangnirtung Print Collection during the Nunavut Arts Festival in Iqaluit.
“There are animals, landscapes, people, fictional stories, true stories. There are different kinds,” artist Eena Angmarlik told Nunatsiaq News during a tour of the centre this spring.
The new collection will feature 18 limited-edition prints of traditional life and Inuit myths, made by six Pangnirtung artists, including Andrew Qappik, who is a member of the Order of Canada, and his wife Annie.
Angmarlik has three prints in the collection, as do artists Jolly Atagoyuk, Leetia Alivaktuk and Pinoa Keyuakjuk.
Some of the prints are inspired by older drawings from the ‘80s and ‘90s, and some are completely new, Angmarlik said.
In May, those prints were hidden upstairs at the print shop in Pangnirtung, and Angmarlik understandably wouldn’t let Nunatsiaq News take a sneak peak—so we don’t have any more information about what they look like.
But you can see the prints for yourself in the Koojesse Room at the Frobisher Inn between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. on July 8.
Some of the artists will be on hand to talk about their work.
There are many talented artists in the quaint, fiord-side community of around 1,400 on Baffin Island.
That’s because the tradition of printmaking began in Pangnirtung in the early ‘60s. The current modern print shop opened in the early ‘90s, while the Uqqurmiut Inuit Artists Association became incorporated in the community in the late ‘80s.
Still, Angmarlik said it’s been a struggle for the centre to raise enough funds in recent years to launch a collection.
The GN’s Department of Economic Development and Transportation funded this collection. The Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association is supporting the collection by hosting the launch.
If you stop in to talk to the artists, they can tell you about the process of making prints in Pangnirtung, where artists might carve their drawing into soapstone, fill the lines with ink and press the etching onto dampened Japanese paper.
Or they might use wax paper and layer on layer of carefully cut stencils to get their desired effect.
But, if you talk to them, you might also hear stories about how artists who have work in the collection got their start as craftspersons.
Angmarlik, who looks after the print shop, also crochets Pangnirtung-style hats, weaves wall tapestries, paints watercolours, beads and embroiders.
But her true love of artmaking started the first time she saw one of her own original pieces—inspired by her favourite book—hung up on display.
She was about eight years old. And the piece was a drawing of a cow.
“We don’t have cows up north, but I really liked that book,” Angmarlik said, laughing.
“When I took it home my mother was really proud of it because she hung it on the wall. I was pleased with that. I was encouraged to do more drawings because she hung it on the wall.”