Printmaker: WILLIAM KANAK (1937-), QAMANI'TUAQ (BAKER LAKE)
Pursuit with Spears and Kayaks, 1971 (1972 #5)
stonecut, 24.5 x 34 in (62.2 x 86.4 cm)
Estimate: $1,800 — $2,800
A Montreal Collection.
We know that Jessie Oonark occasionally drew scenes of caribou hunting as early as 1963, including in the lovely Caching Caribou drawing in the Macdonald Stewart Art Centre collection . Depictions of caribou hunting with bow and arrow crop up in drawings and hangings from the mid 1960s onwards, but scenes of caribou hunting by kayak by Oonark are quite rare. We know of one from the c. 1967, depicting a single kayaker spearing a caribou just as it reaches the shoreline .
Pursuit with Spears and Kayaks is probably based on a drawing of the same period. It's a fascinating image; the caribou are naturalistically depicted, but the rendering of the kayak hunters seems naïve by comparison. Oonark seemed to be working out the depiction of the hunters themselves as the drawing progressed, with the upper one being the most realistic; she also depicted the kayakers with Anguhadluq-style mixed perspectives. Note: although the caribou are shown as though walking, Oonark states, "Those are supposed to be swimming caribou and chased by a kayak" .
1. See Jean Blodgett and Marie Bouchard, Jessie Oonark: A Retrospective (WAG, 1986) cat. 9.
2. The felt-tip drawing is illustrated (in reverse) in Richard Lewis ed., I Breathe a New Song: Poems of the Eskimo (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1971) p. 33. The same drawing is published in Sarah Milroy's article "Flashback: Jessie Oonark" in the Inuit Art Quarterly (Fall 2017: 82-95, and online), p. 87.
3. Marion E. Jackson, Transcripts of Interviews with Jessie Oonark and her Children (unpublished, Inuit Art Section, Indian & Northern Affairs Canada, Spring 1983) p. 31.