Mother and Child, 1971
23.2 x 12.1 x 9.5 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery; The Swinton Collection
Most of John Kavik’s life was spent in inland camps in the Kivalliq region, west of Hudson Bay. He experienced the starvation and self-sufficiency of that lifestyle and, when he began carving in 1963, his work reflected the elemental nature of that life. His gaunt and solitary human figures might be interpreted as powerful statements of human survival. The hard stone is sawed, chiseled, drilled, and filed with a vigour that is evident from expressive tool marks on the rough surfaces. No attempt is made to beautify by smoothing or polishing surfaces. Even his many mother-and-child compositions are stark, with little sentiment or intimacy. There is no narrative, only the fact of existence that is reminiscent of the existential ideas of writer Samuel Beckett in his play Waiting for Godot.