Original, limited-edition, Inuit prints are desirable and valuable works of fine art. The printmaking methods employed are entirely a manual "handmade" process and are the work of the Inuit artists and printers at their workshop. These limited-edition works of art should not be confused with mechanically or photographically reproduced copies or unlimited, open edition art cards.
Galerie Inuit Plus presently carries the original, limited-edition prints issued by the Holman Eskimo Co-operative Ltd., the Povungnituk Co-operative, and by internationally recognized, Inuit artist, Germaine Arnaktauyok.
Holman is a community in the Western Arctic on the shores of Victoria Island, NWT, and is only one of two Inuit communities, which have for over 35 years, nearly continuously issued an annual collection of limited-edition prints. Over this period of time, the artists have evolved and adapted to new materials and methods of printing. This has seen with the progression of time, Holman prints change in character from monochromatic stonecut lithographs to vibrantly colored and detailed stencils.
Much of this evolution of printmaking in Holman took place during the late 1970's through 1980's. Amongst the artists in Holman, Elsie Klengenberg and Mabel Nigiyok during the early 1980's pioneered the use of shading to produce a sculpted 3-dimensional quality to stenciled images. Others such as Peter Palvik mastered zinc plate lithography and then married printmaking methods to add fine detail through the addition of lithography to the stencil prints. Louie Nigiyok added an additional element and mastered woodcut printmaking to recapture the powerfully expressive impressions associated with monochromatic printing.
The evolution of printmaking in Holman continues with the introduction of copper-plate etchings. During 1998, Mary Okheena, an extremely talented and accomplished graphic artist and printmaker who has been described as "perhaps the most original artist" of the younger generation of Holman artists (IAQ, Vol. 10, No. 3, fall 1995), very successfully introduced the first dry point etching to the Holman Collection.
Throughout the history of printmaking in Holman, three generations of printers have successfully participated in this art form. Given all the changes in methods of printing throughout this period, Holman artists have always retained as subjects the Inuit legends and mythologies, and their cultural character and identity.
In recent years the Holman Co-operative workshop has produced annual print collections containing in the order of 25 different images with prints limited to a fixed number of between 25 to 50 prints of any one image. After each edition is manually printed at the Holman printshop, the printing surfaces are defaced to protect the integrity of the art.
After the prints are produced, each print is titled, numbered and signed. The inscription 7/35 means that the print in question is the seventh (7) produced and numbered of a maximum regular edition of thirty-five (35) prints produced bearing that image. To further assure control and as a GUARANTEE of Authenticity, each print is affixed with a chop-mark, that is, a printed or embossed symbol representing the "ulu" trademark of the Holman Eskimo Co-operative Limited through whom the prints are released. Prints prior to 1975 bore the designation "Eskimo Western Arctic".
Povungnituk, also known as POV, is an Inuit community located along the eastern shores of Hudson Bay on the Ungava Peninsula in Nunavik (arctic Quebec). Printmaking commenced in this community in 1961 as a project of the newly formed Povungnituk Cooperative. Annual print collections were produced in Povungnituk from 1962 through to 1989 when the Co-operative closed the print shop after the death of several prominent graphic artists.
George Swinton, the eminent Inuit art authority, said for his foreward in the 1985 Povungnituk Print Catalogue that POV prints have always displayed an unselfconsciousness and honesty. This sentiment was elaborated upon in the closing remarks to the final Print Catalogue issued in 1989, where it was noted Print sales are important of course, but the need (of the graphic artists and printmakers of Povungnituk) to describe, in pictures, their part of the world to the rest of it is just as powerful.
The Povungnituk Annual Print Collections normally contained in the order of 25 to 35 different images with prints limited to a fixed number of no more than 50 prints of any one image. After the edition was hand printed, the prints were titled, numbered and signed (often in Inuktitut syllabics). The final step was the affixing of a chop-mark or blind embossed stamp to each print.
The Povungnituk chop-mark or embossed stamp is applied to assure control and as a GUARANTEE of Authenticity. The trademarked symbol is the seal of the Povungnituk Sculptors' Society, which later became the Povungnituk Co-operative and a founding member organization of La Federation des Cooperatives du Nouveau Quebec. The seal continues to be used because of its singularly appropriate message The People of Povungnituk independent through a common effort.
Germaine Arnaktauyok's Prints
Germaine Arnaktauyok (b. 1946 - ) was born near the central arctic community of Igloolik, and is a renowned and extremely talented illustrator and master printmaker. She has been drawing since childhood and sold her first artwork, an oil painting, at the age of eleven years. Germaine studied Fine Arts at the University of Manitoba under the direction of George Swinton of Winnipeg. She has also studied commercial art at Algonquin College near Ottawa and taken courses in printmaking at Arctic College, Iqaluit. Germaine has continued her professional development and has returned on several occasions to master new skills at private studios in both Edmonton and Montreal. This has including a month in Montreal working on steel engravings with Paul Machnik at Studio PM.
Germaine has illustrated a number of publications produced both by the Canadian federal government and various school boards and educational ministries as well as independent authors. The most prominent such publication to which she has added her illustrations probably is "Canada: North of Sixty", a coffee table book of photographs, essays and drawings depicting life in the Canadian North. Germaine has also given a number of demonstrations on printmaking, including those at the Field Museum (Chicago), Dallas Museum of Natural History, and Museum of Civilization (Ottawa area).
The works of Germaine Arnaktauyok reflect her formal training and experience and her limited-edition prints are generally produced as copper etchings. Her subjects reflect her Inuit cultural character and often explore traditional Inuit mythology. She is particularly interested in female entities and concerns. These often portray the joy of motherhood and the strong bonds, which are developed between mothers and their young children.
Germaine's limited-edition prints are generally produced as copper etchings for which she personally produces the printing plates. Each of her prints is produced in a fixed number. Recent issues have varied from less than 10 to 100. After an edition is manually printed, the printing surface is defaced to protect the integrity of the art. Germaine personally numbers and signs each of the prints in both Roman letters and Inuktitut syllabics. To further assure control and as a GUARANTEE of Authenticity, each of her recent prints is affixed with a trademarked chop-mark or embossed symbol representing an "owl".
Germaine Arnaktauyok has received an number of commissions and honors including a successful seven (7) month solo exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery during 1998. The illustrated catalogue accompanying that exhibition reveals insights into Germaine's life and work and depicts a number of her original drawings and limited-edition etchings.
Germaine's most recent honors include selection by the Royal Canadian Mint of two of her designs for use on Canadian coins. This includes her image of a drummer dancer as the reverse design on the 1999 commemorative Cdn$2 coin. The coin celebrates the creation of the Territory of Nunavut and replaces the "polar bear" design for all circulating $2 coins dated 1999. The design of the 1999 $2 coin was based upon Germaine's 1996 silk screen print "Drummer". The image of the original design was reversed, as with a negative, and Germaine was commissioned to make changes to allow for an improved image in metallic format. The final coin design was originally intended for use on a collector's edition silver dollar, however, the importance of the event being commemorated saw the change to a circulating $2 format and the addition of collectors' editions in base metal and both sterling silver and gold.
Germaine was also chosen to design the year 2000 collector's edition $200 gold coin. The coin portrays Germaine's image of "Mother and Child" and is the fourth and final 22-karat gold coin in the popular Native Cultures and Traditions series.
In recognition of her artistic merits and to celebrate the selection by the Royal Canadian Mint of two of her designs for Canadian coins, Germaine recently attended (in 2000) a ceremony at the Canadian Houses of Parliament where she received an honor from the Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Jean Chretien.
Germaine Arnaktauyok's 2001 Collection
During year 2000 Germaine has been extremely active both researching and preparing her Millennium portfolio of prints. This collection consists of 18 works released during spring 2001 and is only her fourth print collection to be released within the past ten years. Research work for this release included a return visit to her birthplace at Mingatuk, a campsite on Melville Peninsula, about 30 miles from Igloolik. This trip awoke her childhood memories and brought forward many Inuit stories as she was accompanied by one of her sisters and a brother, as well as several Inuit elders.
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Images in the 2001 Print Collection depict Germaine Arnaktauyok's interest in her Inuit heritage and culture and reflect her interpretation of these Inuit mythological and anthropological subjects. All 18 works were produced as etchings from metal plates prepared by Germaine during numerous visits to either the Montreal studio of master printer Paul Machnik or Mary Jo Major's studio in Calgary. The significance of the 2001 Collection is reflected in Germaine Arnaktauyok's most recent honor in having the collection hung in the new Legislative Assembly building in Iqaluit to mark the opening of the second winter session of the first government of Nunavut. All images are also portrayed in a full color catalogue with descriptions and commentary on each image and legend.