SHEOKJUK OQUTAQ (1920-1982) m., KIMMIRUT/KINNGAIT (LAKE HARBOUR/CAPE DORSET),
Running Boy, c. 1952-54
stone, ivory, and black colouring, 5 x 4.25 x 1.5 in (12.7 x 10.8 x 3.8 cm)
Estimate: $6,000 — $9,000
Private Collection, Toronto.
The elder brother of the famous Cape Dorset sculptor Osuitok Ipeelee, Sheokjuk probably began carving in ivory in the mid-late 1940s during his stay in Kimmirut (Lake Harbour); the skill and finesse he developed there stood him in good stead in his future work in both ivory and stone. He returned to the Cape Dorset area in 1948, and began carving in stone at the request of James Houston in 1952. Sheokjuk moved back to Kimmirut again in the years 1954-1959, working in both stone and ivory.
Both the use of Cape Dorset stone and the style of the carving suggest the date c. 1952-54 for this lovely work. That places it among examples such as the Bust of Woman of 1952-53 and the Bust of a Young Man and Young Woman of 1954-59 (Early Masters pp. 157 and 160) in terms of both style and finesse. (By the way, we would suggest the pair of busts dates from early in Sheokjuk’s second Kimmirut period.) However, Running Boy is perhaps unique in Sheokjuk’s oeuvre when it comes to the sculpture’s sense of movement and joyous aspect. We can think of only one other Sheokjuk carving of the period that comes close to the liveliness of this delightful image ; even the artist’s highly realistic ivory caribou look static in comparison. We are not sure if Sheokjuk had young children at this time, but the sculpture certainly looks like a father’s loving portrait of a son running excitedly to greet him.
1. For a charming contemporaneous Boy with Dog of very similar appearance but less sense of movement, see Cynthia Waye Cook, Inuit Sculpture in the Collection of the Art Gallery of York University (North York: AGYU, 1988) cat. 8. We are certain the subject is the same young boy.
References: See Darlene Coward Wight, Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949-1955 (WAG, 2006), pp. 152-161 for a number of superb works by Sheokjuk. See Cynthia Waye Cook, Inuit Sculpture in the Collection of the Art Gallery of York University (North York: AGYU, 1988) cats. 7-8 for stylistically similar ivory and stone depictions of a boy by Sheokjuk.