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Peter Aliknak (Banksland)

Spearing Fishes

Artist

Peter Aliknak (Banksland)
Baillie Island, Northwest Territories, 1928 – Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories 1998Active in Ulukhaktok

Title

Spearing Fishes

Date

1969

Materials

Stonecut, 47/50

Dimensions

61.1 x 45.5 cm

Credits

Purchase, Harriette J. MacDonnell Bequest, inv. 2011.403

Collection

Graphic Arts

Inspired by the prints he had seen in Cape Dorset, local Oblate missionary Father Henry Tardy helped found the Holman Eskimo Co-operative in 1961 with the intent of alleviating the widespread poverty in Holman (now Ulukhaktok) after the collapse of the fur trade. Originally a sculptor, Peter Aliknak began experimenting with drawing as an early member of this Co-operative, although his work did not immediately gain acceptance in the Inuit art market. In 1963, ten prints based on his early drawings were submitted by the Co-operative to the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council, and subsequently rejected. The Council perceived Aliknak’s work as possessing too much of a Western influence due to his use of techniques such as foreshortening, overlapping and one-point perspective. After this experience, Aliknak abandoned drawing for three years. Despite this early setback, he went on to have a successful career. Between 1967 and 1999, the Co-operative published eighty-seven prints based on his drawings.


Spearing Fishes depicts a man standing waist-deep in a river, aiming his kakivak, or triple-pronged harpoon, at an eventual catch. With its simplified, flat shapes and two colours of ink, the work is a prime example of the stonecut printing era at the Holman Co-operative.

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