One might consider that with a name like ‘the Ungava’ that this chapter might be about a place in Africa but ‘Ungava’ is actually found in northern Canada. I came across a booklet or catalogue in my travels. It’s focus is the artwork of #TiviEtook. He cuts into stone the images portrayed here and then inks and prints. These stone cuts burst with vibrancy, for they show us not the ordinary caribou and men, but the great sharp-horned spirits-torngat that guard the swollen rivers and the tundra plain.
Tivi Etook is a hunter, a tracker, a butcher, and an anatomist who understands the rhythm of the animals, the very twitching of the fish. His sharp edged knife probes the ancient surfaces of stone in search of images and dreams, in search of life. He gives us a first hand account of a world of privation and survival. A world where demons such as the powerful Ekeagualuk are once more becoming stronger and increasing in numbers.
Tivi Etook was the first Inuk printmaker to have a collection of his own prints released in 1975. He is now an Inuk Elder.
“When I make my prints I recall the things which happened in my childhood – the hunger, the search for food, the days of walking and the stories I heard from the old people. When I make a print i make it reveal the truth of our life as my ancestors lived it and as I did to a lesser extent in my own youth”
“Though we went hungry many times, though during our walking we crossed swollen rivers which often swept us off our feet, though we spent months alone on the land, we did not fear anything except hunger. Now we do not find hunger but we find fear. In the past we were never lost. Now we know not where we are going.”
What awesome images of a life that few will ever know. A past not far gone by. A history that needs to be remembered and retold to our children and their children. A memory which should not be forgotten either in story or image. A leading light of #Inuit artists. A talent supreme who once could not see the value of drawings for his society had no use for them. Thankfully he changed his mind for for now we have images like these not just for pleasure but history.