Northern Highlights: In the Field: Nunavik Artist Residency
Recently three Nunavimmiut artists travelled to France to learn and to share their work.
Over January and February, I travelled to France alongside two other Nunavimmiut artists, my wife Qumaq Mangiuk from Ivujivik, and Nancy Saunders from Kuujjuaq and Montreal to participate in an artistic residency thanks to an agreement between the École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts de Paris, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Consulat général de France à Québec. Our exchange was also supported by the Délégation générale du Québec à Paris and Avataq Cultural Institute.
During our stay in Paris, we participated in a conference organized by the École that allowed us to introduce our art to an audience of almost 100 guests and visited local museums, including the Louvre. I never thought I would see the famous Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, and I am happy to have a picture with it. I also saw two Michelangelo sculptures, and I observed that Roman and Greek sculptures were not always made from a single piece of stone. Art was everywhere! Even in the marble floors—the variations and colours are amazing.
In the Saint-Ouen beaux-arts studios, located in a Parisian suburb, I worked with clay for the first time and created a cup with a seal in relief on it. I also made a wax sculpture to be cast in bronze in the shape of a harpoon head that my father gave me. My father made two identical harpoons, one for my brother and one for me. I don’t use it for fear of losing it while I am hunting. I also completed two stone sculptures Iqaluullamiluuq of Ivujivik Visiting and Self Portrait Carrying Heavy Loads of Life, Yet I Am Still Here. The first is made from a pink alabaster stone. After choosing it, I discovered it had many fine cracks, so I put wax on it like they do in Inujjuak (Inukjuak), which made the stone’s colour resemble fish meat; Iqaluullamiluuq is a half-fish, half-human being. The second sculpture, a self-portrait, represents the heavy part of life that passes by every person.
I had to cut away part of my sculpture to balance it, which made it look like it was trying to carry something heavy. This is what gave me the title.
The artworks produced by our group during this residency were exhibited from February 7–8 as part of De l’art inuit aux beaux-arts de Paris.
Mattiusi Iyaituk at work on a clay cup at Saint-Ouen beaux-arts studios, January 2016