Cape Dorset studio marks 50 years

Prized Inuit artwork from the Kinngait print shop in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, was celebrated in an Iqaluit museum Thursday night, marking the Cape Dorset studio's 50th anniversary.
One of the most well-known works from Cape Dorset is Kenojuak Ashevak's The Enchanted Owl from 1960. Her print adorned a six-cent stamp 10 years later. ((CBC))
Prized Inuit artwork from the Kinngait print shop in Cape Dorset, Nunavut, was celebrated in an Iqaluit museum Thursday night, marking the Cape Dorset studio's 50th anniversary.

Considered to be Canada's longest continuously running print shop, the Kinngait Studio in Cape Dorset has been behind prints by acclaimed Inuit artists such as Kenojuak Ashevak, Kanaanginnaa Pootoogoo, Okotaq Meekeegak and Petaloosie Saila.

Ottawa celebration 

The the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa is also celebrating the Kinngait print shop's 50th anniversary. The special exhibition Uuturautiit: Cape Dorset Celebrates 50  Years of Printmaking  presents prints from the shop's original 1959 collection alongside the latest 2009 works from Cape Dorset, as well as drawings and photographs. It opened Oct. 16 and runs until Jan. 17, 2010.

"One of the, I guess, best internationally known sort of Canadian artforms are Inuit prints, and primarily because of the success of Cape Dorset and its … very original interesting artwork that seems to capture the interest of people around the world," said Brian Lunger, manager and curator of the Nunatta Sunakutaangit Museum in Iqaluit, which as been showing Cape Dorset prints for the past 25 years.

A special anniversary reception was held Thursday night at the Iqaluit museum, which has 36 prints from Cape Dorset's 50th anniversary collection on exhibit.

Lunger said art galleries around the world are also exhibiting prints from the collecton.

"I think there's almost 30 different galleries around Canada, the U.S., and different parts of Europe, and even Japan," he said.

Mayoreak Ashoona shows off her print, Tuulirjuaq, at the Nunatta Sunakutaangit Museum in Iqaluit. ((CBC))
The 50th anniversary collection's showpiece is Tuulirjuaq — Inuktitut for "Great Big Loon" — an 88 by 59 centimetre stonecut stencil print by 61-year old Mayoreak Ashoona, who was from Cape Dorset but now lives in Iqaluit.

Speaking in Inuktitut, Ashoona told CBC News she is grateful that Inuit art is admired and appreciated.

Some Inuit are very good artists, she said, adding that well-made artworks are very uplifting.

As a fundraiser for the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit museum, Lunger said it is holding a draw on Saturday afternoon to determine who will get first pick to purchase a print from the Cape Dorset collection.

The prints will remain on display at the museum until the end of November.