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Peter Aliknak Banksland

Spearing Fishes


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


Spearing Fishes




Stonecut, 47/50


61.1 x 45.5 cm


Purchase, Harriette J. MacDonnell Bequest, inv. 2011.403


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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