23 May – Works can be viewed and reserved online 30 May – Online exhibition opens. Priority goes to those who have registered ahead of time. Pre-register interest
“With his exquisitely carved face, this short and sturdy hunter standing ready with knife in hand, is typical of the early contemporary period of Inuit Art. The 1950s saw considerable changes to the social and economic face of the Canadian Arctic and, for the first time, Inuit artists were able to build on their centuries-old tradition of art making as a market gradually emerged.
The artists of this early period had all lived the traditional life and their subject matter was reflective of this. These small sculptures, made more naturalistic by the addition of inlay or implements, had a monumental quality that defied their small scale. Greatly sought after by collectors, these small works capture the essence of Inuit culture.
Several pieces in this collection of works reflect this transitional moment. The majority of pieces however, celebrate the next stages in contemporary Inuit art—when the scale of sculpture increased and artists began to develop their own unique styles, occasionally abstracting elements for a new and exciting aesthetic.” Pat Feheley
In traditional Inuit life, women had to be experts at stitching because survival in the Arctic depended on warm, adaptable clothing. Beautifully stitched skin clothing was a source of pride and often decorative patterns were made by insets of lighter and darker parts of the seal or caribou skin. Patterns and techniques were passed down from generation to generation. As trade increased in the later nineteenth century, so too did a greater awareness of wider issues and narratives. Today we look to these makers for artistic insights as well as craft. This selection of works has been curated by Pat Feheley, Director of one of the last remaining commercial galleries in Canada dedicated exclusively to traditional and contemporary art from the Canadian Arctic and an expert on the work of Inuit textile artists.
Messum’s Wiltshire is a pioneering multi-purpose gallery and arts centre celebrating the creative endeavour.