Carleton University curators visit Iqaluit in search of art by Alootook Ipellie
Gallery curators putting together 1st-ever retrospective show of late artist's work
A team of curators from the Carleton University Art Gallery in Ottawa was in Iqaluit last week, trying to hunt down some early drawings by the late artist Alootook Ipellie.
The curators are putting together the first-ever retrospective show of Ipellie's life and work, but tracking down his artworks has not been easy.
"A lot of his work is not in [public] collections," said Heather Igloliorte, a professor at Concordia University and independent curator working on the project.
"He sold a lot of his drawings to individuals so we are trying to gather up the drawings from people who maybe have his work in their homes."
Ipellie's work has been hugely influential, said Igloliorte, in part because of his unique drawing style, but also because of the topics he engaged with through his art.
"He was one of the first political cartoonists Inuit had," said Igloliorte.
"He was working on really critical bodies of work that challenge colonialism and took on the oil and gas industry."
'I value it very much'
Igloliorte and the Carleton team have found people with Ipellie's work all over the world.
In Iqaluit, one of the people they visited was Adeline Salomonie. Fifteen years ago, while living in Yellowknife, she bought four of Ipellie's drawings from a friend. The drawings had been originally purchased, Salomonie said, by her friend's mother in Iqaluit in the early 1970s.
"I value them very much," she said.
"You don't see art work like them around very much. They were black and white and that's what I like… the facial features were very detailed and the shading was really nice, too."
Ipellie's early work is unique, according to Salomonie, showing a more innocent and light side of the artist's work. Salomonie said she was happy to show her prized drawings to the Carleton curators, and that she would be honoured to have them included in their show.
"There are a lot of great artists in Nunavut and the fact that they are doing this show is very exciting," she said.
The search for Ipellie's art continues, with a tentative date for the show at the Carleton University Art Gallery in 2018. The Carleton team is encouraging anyone who has art by Alootook Ipellie to contact Sandra Dyck.