Migration, c. 1965
stone, bone, gut, sinew
22 x 30.2 x 14.8 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; Twomey Collection, with appreciation to the Province of Manitoba and Government of Canada
Joe Talirunili is one of Canada’s best-known Inuit artists, respected for his sculpture and prints. One of his favourite subjects depicts a marine disaster that occurred when the artist was a child. While travelling to new hunting grounds, a group of about 40 people found themselves adrift on an ice floe that had broken away from the edge of the sea ice. Using sealskins and the wood of their sleds, they worked against time on an ever-shrinking piece of ice to build a skin boat, or umiak, large enough to hold all of them. They drifted for days in the boat before reaching land. In contrast to the realistic detail and polished surfaces typical of most sculpture from Puvirnituq, Talirunili’s works are animated by visible tool marks, and the unpolished surfaces retain the original grey matte texture of the steatite stone he used.