Tag Archives: Oviloo Tunnillie

More art fun!

Speaking of Inuit art, (previous post) who are your favourite Inuit artists?  Do you have one….or three?   If you’re an Art Caravan follower, you know I have a few favourites, including Kenojouak Ashevak (1927-2013) and Oviloo Tunnillie (1949-2014.)

Kenojuak Ashevak, thestar.com image


Oviloo Tunillie, cbc.ca image

Ningiukulu Teevee is another contemporary (born in 1963) Inuit artist on my favourites list.  (Isn’t that the beauty of lists – easily edited, amended, and never ending?)  I first wrote about her in 2015.  She works in drawing and printmaking, including lithography, etching and aquatint, as well as the more traditional stone cut and stencil.  I am attracted to the sense of humour and playfulness evident in her art.  The print, Trance, seems especially appropriate to this covid winter. (sigh)

Trance, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2014, stonecut and stencil, edition of 50

Trance, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2014, stonecut and stencil, edition of 50

Her subject matter is varied; traditional stories and legends are explored, as well as contemporary experiences and life in the Arctic.  The works express a beguiling combination of charm and edginess.

You Know your Inuk When, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2016, Madrona Gallery image

Yesterday, Ningiekulu Teevee, 2008, stonecut and stencil, dorsetfinearts.com image

Since  2004, she has contributed to the annual Graphics Collection from Cape Dorset.  Boastful Owl, is a lithograph from the 2020 Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection. (Sold out!)

Boastful Owl, Ningiukulu Teevee, 2020, lithograph, dorsetfinearts.com image

In 2017, the Winnipeg Art Gallery exhibited a solo show of Teevee’s work at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C.  Ningiukulu Teevee:  Kingait Stories caught the attention of the Smithsonian Magazine, who described the show  as unique and wonderful.

In 2019, Dorset Fine Arts, in conjunction with Pomegranate, published Ningiukulu Teevee:  Drawings and Prints from Cape Dorset.  Leslie Boyd’s writing accompanies the 80+ images and photographs.  Need a last minute Valentine’s Day gift?  The book is readily available through your local independent bookseller (I know, because I just ordered it!)

All I want for Christmas…..

The Art Caravan has compiled a brief list for this year’s Christmas wish list. Since the best  gifts are books and art (dark chocolate goes without saying,) I chose one book and one work of art.

Without too much deliberation – it seemed an easy choice – Guerrilla Girls:  Art of Behaving Badly  is at the top of my list.  Goodreads.com gives it 5 stars.  The New York Times rates it as one of the Best Art Books of 2020.  It comes with a punch-out gorilla mask – who could resist?

Guerrilla Girls: The Art of Behaving Badly

Just for fun, I decided to make the choice of artwork hypothetical – price is not a consideration.  (It is, after all, a wish list.) This made the selection far more difficult.  I considered a sculpture by Oviloo Tunnnillie, the Inuit sculptor.   Here is my 2016 post about this remarkable artist, with several images of her sculptures.  The ones I like the best are of Sednas, and are in museum collections, so, hypothetically speaking, not available.  (One can makes one’s own rules in this game.)

I decided to shop for a print by Sybil Andrews, the British printmaker and welder (!) who eventually settled on Vancouver Island, after World War II.  Her linocut images, carved in the machine age style, are colourful and dynamic.

Skaters, Sybil Andrews, 1953, artsy.net image

It seems like the perfect choice, doesn’t it?  It’s a wintry scene, created in Canada, for someone with a fondness for printmaking and outdoor skating.

Since we know, and the pandemic is emphasizing,  that the best things in life aren’t things, I have a third and final wish, which is a non-material item.  (See above about making the rules.)  My wish is for high quality art education in all schools, at all age levels, as part of the basic curriculum.  This would include practical classes, wherein all students learn to draw, play a musical instrument, sing and participate in drama classes. In addition to the hands-on learning, art appreciation opportunities would be provided.  Students would attend art shows, and performances by professional actors, musicians and dancers.  Artists would regularly visit schools to lead workshops and give performances.

It’s a big wish, I know.  But think of all the benefits:  happier, healthier, creative individuals.  Employment created for artists and teachers. We know that art brings a myriad of benefits to our lives.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if everyone had the same exposure to arts and culture?

The original Art Caravan

The original Art Caravan

I’d be happy to hear your three wishes.  And please, pass the (dark) chocolate.


Art in the ‘peg

It always surprises me that many people don’t know about the rich cultural scene in Winnipeg.  “Really?” they ask. I wonder why more Canadians aren’t aware of the breadth and depth of the arts and culture in Manitoba?  Maybe it’s because the artists, musicians, writers, dancers and theatre folk in the ‘peg are too busy creating and not spending enough time marketing their creations.  Maybe it’s because the Canadian media has a bias toward Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver with their larger populations. It’s probably the result of all of this, and more.

The Winnipeg Art Gallery was one of my chosen art destinations this summer.  (Yes!  Venice AND Winnipeg.)  I was very motivated to see three of the artists featured this summer:  Chagall, Karel Funk and, especially,  Ether Warkov.

As sometimes happens in an art gallery, there were other artists who captured my attention the August day I visited the WAG. This is the sculpture that caused me to retrace my steps, read the introduction to the show, and look at the work more carefully…….

Ikayukta Tunnillie Carrying Her Drawings to the Co-op by Oviloo Tunnillie

Ikayukta Tunnillie Carrying Her Drawings to the Co-op by Oviloo Tunnillie

The retrospect of Oviloo Tunnillie’s carvings, A Woman’s Story in Stone is an extensive examination of her work, and her life. Oviloo Tunnillie is a significant Canadian artist. Not only was she one of the first female Inuit carvers, but she was one of the first Inuit carvers to depict the nude human figure. The sculptures, dating from the 1970’s through the 1990’s, begin with traditional motifs (eg. birds) and evolve into more personal subjects. Oviloo Tunnillie’s choice and treatment of subject matter are the reasons I was wrenched from my cursory amble through the show. 

Here is what she said about her Sednas, the half female/half fish sea spirits:
I try to make my sure that my Sednas are a little different from other people’s Sednas. Although I’ve never seen any Sednas myself, because they live in the water or in the ocean, I make sure that they look partly wet……I do like making Sednas.  And I do like the fact that someone has seen one just recently.

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

Sedna by Oviloo Tunnillie

The work is, at times, charming as well as beautiful.  Below are The Skater and Child on Sled.

The Skater by Oviloo Tunnillie

Child on Sled by Oviloo Tunnillie

Perhaps what I most admire about it is her honesty.   She did not shy away from difficult topics like alcoholism, and other social ills. As a child, Oviloo Tunnillie suffered from tuberculosis, and was sent to the south of Canada for treatment.  Her time in care in Toronto is represented by this sculpture…….

This Has Touched My Life by Oviloo Tunnillie

This Has Touched My Life by Oviloo Tunnillie

The show runs until September 11, 2016 in Winnipeg.  Can’t get to Winnipeg before then?  There is a catalogue from the show available. Commercial galleries such as Madrona Gallery  (Victoria) and Marion Scott Gallery (Vancouver) sell some of her work.