Most of the works were created between 1950 and 1970 and drawn from the Government of Nunavut’s fine art collection, which is housed on long-term loan at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
Inuit sculpture comes in many materials, shapes, and sizes, reflecting the resources available to the carvers in their communities or through trade. In some instances, the natural shape and form of a piece of stone, bone, or ivory help to determine the content and theme of the sculpture itself, along with the artist’s own agile intuition. Each piece shows evidence of a steady hand, a great amount of patience, and results in intricate detailing that could only be achieved with an intense precision.
Historically, miniatures would be created to trade for necessities and other items, or to be sold at a Hudson’s Bay Company post or Inuit-owned co-operative. In other instances, miniature carvings of animals were created to bring good fortune to hunters. What distinguishes them from larger Inuit sculpture is the distinct sense of intimacy that their scale affords. Modest in size, these carvings nonetheless symbolically embody entire worlds of belief and ways of life.