Luke Anguhadluq lived much of his life in the traditional Utkuhikhalingmiut lifestyle in the Back River area of Nunavut, and was widely respected for many years as a camp leader. Even after he and his family were relocated to Baker Lake during a famine in the late 1950s, Anguhadluq lived outside of the community in tents and igloos until about 1967. He then almost immediately began drawing to support his family and soon became recognized as one of the great Inuit elder memory artists.
In his drawings, Anguhadluq depicted every conceivable aspect of traditional life: hunting and fishing scenes, camp life, animals, solitary figures or groups of people in traditional dress, shamans, and drum séances. He invented his own system of mixed perspectives, presenting figures and objects from ideal viewing angles, from different points in time, and according to their relative importance. Symbolism became an important aspect of Anguhadluq’s art as well, with the kakivak (trident fishing spear), the ulu (woman’s curved knife), the drum, and women’s tattooed faces and clothing used as key markers of identity and meaning.
This drawing, a classic example of Anguhadluq’s fully developed drawing style, depicts a mature woman dressed in traditional skin clothing. The salient details of her clothing – front flap, wide shoulders, and hood – are clearly shown but their proportions are distorted, as are the woman’s feet and arms and the kakivak and ulu she holds. Interestingly, the size and shape of the latter features are minimized rather than exaggerated. In contrast, the woman’s head and tattoos are magnified, suggesting that this drawing is quite likely a portrait. Anguhadluq’s choice of bold, non-naturalistic colours is not unique to him but instead quite typical of Baker Lake graphic art.