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Printmaking in Nunavik

From 1961 to 1989

Printmaking in Nunavik started in 1961 with a printmaking workshop was set up in Puvirnituq, following the success of the Cape Dorset print shop. Although, printmaking started with the support and assistance of Gordon Yearsley and Father Steinman, the Puvirnituq printers were often left to themselves.

Annual Print Collections were produced in Purvinituq from 1962 until 1989 when the Co-operative closed the print shop. The first Puvirnituq collection was in 1962 and was included in the Cape Dorset Print Catalogue. The Annual Print Collection usually contained 25 to 35 different images.

The Travelling Printmaking course

Stonecut was the most common technique of printmaking in Nunavik in the 60s. It consisted in reproducing an original drawing through a flat stone block. The negative image from the original drawing was carved and then the printer would ink the stone and transfer it onto paper. No more than fifty prints are typically made from the same carved stone block.

The stone is usually kept in the archives of the Co- operative.
The print artists of Puvirnituq were also carvers. Unlike the print artists from Cape Dorset, Puvirnituq artists would carve their designs onto the print block themselves instead of using assistants to transfer the image. The earliest prints were monochromatic (one color), usually black but sometimes blue, red or green. Usually printers in this community did not work from drawings but cut directly into the stone.

Other Nunavik communities including Salluit, Inukjuak, Kuujjuaraapik and Kangirsualujjuaq also experimented with printmaking, producing collections once in a while during the 1960’s and 1970’s.

“Nunavik art is a dynamic outlet for cultural expression and a fascinating window into the history and roots of a unique region.”

Povungnituk Print Making, Katilvik

From 2000 on…

In more recent years, Nunavik artists and various cultural organizations like Avataq Cultural Institute and Kativik Ilisarniliriniq have launched a movement to revive the art of printmaking in the region.


Linocut, lithography and stencil printing are all techniques that have been used by various Nunavik artists since the early 2000s, after a workshop with Cape Dorset print shop was done. Six artists from Nunavik spent 3 weeks in Cape Dorset to practice and gain more experience with these forms of printmaking, as well as stonecut and etching.

In Nunavik, Lyne Bastien, with Kativik Ilisarniliriniq’s Adult Education and Vocational Training department, has been giving three linocut workshops a year in different communities to revive the art of printmaking. Linocut is a relief printmaking process that is very similar to stonecut printing. With linocut, a drawing is done then transferred to a soft rubber plate that is inked before being printed on paper. Three artists from Ivujivik, along with Lyne Bastien, have worked on a group projet called “Convergence North/South” and it was exhibited at the Feheley Fine Art in Toronto in 2018 and at the Papier Montreal Art Fair in 2019.

Avataq

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Sealskin float

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