“There is no one Inuit word for art. We say it is to transfer something from the real to the unreal.” – Kenojuak Ashevak
Cape Dorset, Nunavut, in the Arctic territories of Canada, is considered the epicenter of printmaking and contemporary Inuit art. Focusing on stone cut prints from the 1960s, this exhibition presents artworks produced by the first generation of full time Inuit artists based at the settlement, including works by Kenojuak Ashevak (1927-2013) and Pitseolak Ashoona (1904-1983), two of Canada’s most esteemed graphic artists. Created by a relief print cut from stone, it is an artform unique to the Inuit that pays respect to their long history of stone carving.
Art is a vital element of Inuit culture. Distinguished by clean graphic outlines and a monochrome palette punctuated by bold strokes of colour, the “shadow prints” as the Inuit refer to them, provide a contemporary insight into an ancient way of life. Many of the artists were raised in a semi-nomadic life, dictated by the elements and framed by the seasons, before taking up residence as 1 of 50 families brought together at the Cape Dorset settlement after its establishment in 1959.
The works shown here, produced in the Cape Dorset Print Programme, illustrate both the continuity and change that has shaped the Inuit’s isolated and introspective way of living. The graphic works present a visual history of their culture and capture the strong bonds that they share with their ancestral homelands—a world in which, as Kenojuak Ashevak’s husband once suggested, the spirits “whisper in her ears.”
Click here for an immersive digital walkthrough of the exhibition.
The exhibition, which is sponsored by Bacardi Limited, with support from the Canadian Consul, is on display in the Upper Mezzanine Gallery until Saturday, January 22.
The Bacardi Collection Series
Bacardi Limited is the largest privately held spirits company in the world. Founded in Cuba, in 1862, the company moved its global headquarters to Bermuda in 1965 after the family was forced into exile.
The Bacardi family has been collecting art since the 1800s. Their collection, which is overseen by an in-house archivist, numbers almost seven hundred artworks and includes masterpieces of both Cuban and European art, which are displayed in company offices around the world.
Bacardi’s art collection has always been a private passion enjoyed by staff and visitors. In a new partnership with the Bermuda National Gallery, Bacardi is sharing artworks from its collection with Bermuda.
Building on 24 years of Bacardi’s sponsorship of the BNG’s Biennial, The Bacardi Collections Series showcases the family’s art by presenting a selection of works on loan from the striking, Mies van der Rohe designed, Bacardi global headquarters in Hamilton.