Ceramic Bust with Drawings (c. 2012–13)
I had the honour of handling and observing this rare collaborative work closely over the past two years, during the Earthlings exhibition and national tour. The base sculpture was hand-built in stoneware by Kurok at the Matchbox Gallery studio in Kangiqliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU. Deftly skilled, Kurok patterned the surface of the clay with small circular depressions, suggesting traditional tattoos that merge into graphic constellations across the face, neck and shoulders. There is something benign yet supernatural in this hairless character, smiling softly, small-eared and broad shouldered. However, it is the alchemy of Kenalogak’s superimposed imagery—her signature densely patterned and brightly coloured style—that vivifies the sculpture. Resident artists working at the Matchbox studio have a history of collaborative ceramics, but drawing on the surface of a sculpture is an innovation. I love how Kenalogak did not cave to the temptation to illustrate the facial features literally, instead, using the whole three-dimensional surface as a single blank page.
BELOW Jessie Kenalogak(b. 1951 Qamani’tuaq) John Kurok (b. 1977 Kangiqliniq) —Ceramic Bust with Drawings c. 2012–13Painted ceramic45.7 × 40.6 × 27.9 cm