Legacy carved in stone

Tu­ber­cu­lo­sis pa­tients’ Inuit art do­nated to Hamil­ton art gallery.

Canada's History - - CURRENTS -

In one care­fully carved piece, an Inuit boy cra­dles a seal pup; in another piece, dark ink lines weave across a can­vas, giv­ing form to four birds. These works of Inuit art are just a small sam­ple of a 132-piece col­lec­tion of sculp­tures and prints re­cently do­nated to On­tario’s Art Gallery of Hamil­ton.

The col­lec­tion’s his­tory is equally com­pelling: The pieces were cre­ated by Inuit from the east­ern Arc­tic who were sent to Hamil­ton to be treated for tu­ber­cu­lo­sis in the 1950s and 1960s. More than 1,300 pa­tients were treated at Hamil­ton’s Moun­tain San­i­tar­ium dur­ing that pe­riod. Pa­tients sold the art for spend­ing money; art­works that didn’t sell were stored for decades at the san­i­tar­ium, which later be­came Che­doke Hospi­tal (now part of Hamil­ton Health Sci­ences). Well-known Inuit artists in­cluded in the col­lec­tion are Keno­juak Ashe­vak, Guy Ma­ma­tiaq, Moses Meeko, Noona, Ali­vak­tak Pe­taloosie, Si­mon POV, Mik­isiti Saila, and Kanayuk Tukalak.

An anony­mous donor re­cently pur­chased the col­lec­tion and do­nated it to the art gallery. Hamil­ton Health Sci­ences of­fi­cials said the pro­ceeds of the pur­chase will be used to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices and care for “In­dige­nous pa­tients and their fam­i­lies” in the Hamil­ton re­gion.

The gallery plans a ma­jor ex­hi­bi­tion of the col­lec­tion in 2017.

Two Inuit men carve sculp­tures while un­der­go­ing treat­ment for tu­ber­cu­lo­sis, in Hamil­ton, On­tario, circa 1950-1960.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.