Printmaker: IYOLA KINGWATSIAK (1933-2000) m., KINNGAIT (CAPE DORSET)
Stone block cutter: POSSIBLY KANANGINAK POOTOOGOOK, R.C.A. (1935-2010) m., KINNGAIT (CAPE DORSET)
Bird Dream Forewarning Blizzards, 1959 #16
stonecut , 22.5 x 17 in (57.1 x 43.2 cm)
Estimate: $12,000 — $16,000
Galerie Elca London, Montreal;
Acquired from the above by a Private Collection, Toronto.
The year 1959 was an exciting one, full of experimentation in the Kinngait print studio. Bird Dream Forewarning Blizzards was apparently the first print for which a background colour was added by means of a brayer (ink roller) before the image itself was printed. James Houston stated that the technique happened almost accidentally when a brayer was being cleaned on a sheet of glass that was lying next to a readied sheet of paper. This led to a number of copies of this print being rolled with colour before being printed . The background effects produced vary considerably from print to print; close examination of this copy of the print and others make us wonder if the lightly inked brayer was perhaps rolled onto glass (or some other hard surface) and then transferred onto the paper, rather than being rolled directly onto the paper. This and similar background colour techniques were used for several prints in the 1959 collection.
Bird Dream Forewarning Blizzards is a famous image that is surely among the most enigmatic and evocative of early Cape Dorset prints. Tudlik juxtaposes the gaunt, almost corpse-like image of a human-possibly Tudlik himself but more likely a shaman-experiencing a dream- or trance-induced vision of a powerful bird spirit. Among a shaman's supernatural powers was the ability to see himself in skeletal or transparent form. Another important role was predicting or even controlling the weather. Aiding him here is the imposing figure of the spirit bird, a hybrid creature either part human or part bear. This haunting creation is quite unlike Tudlik's charming bird carvings but it does, interestingly, "foreshadow" some of the transformation sculptures by his son Latcholassie Akesuk (1919-2000).
1. NGC Curator Christine Lalonde suggests that the print might be stonecut and linocut (presumably linocut for the bird spirit); see Christine Lalonde and Leslie Boyd Ryan, Uuturautiit: Cape Dorset 1959-2009 (Ottawa: NGC, 2009), cat. 5. James Houston identified the print as a stonecut and sealskin stencil in his article "Eskimo Graphic Art" in Canadian Art (Jan. 1960), p. 14.
2. See Norman Vorano, Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2011), pp. 50-52.
References: This image has been reproduced in numerous publications including the National Museum of Man international touring exhibition catalogue The Inuit Print (Ottawa: NMM, 1977) cat. 4; Ernst Roch ed., Arts of the Eskimo: Prints (Montreal/Toronto: Signum/Oxford, 1974), p. 29; Norman Vorano, Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration (Canadian Museum of Civilization, 2011), fig. 32.