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Inuit Art 


Kinngait Studio, Nunavut

Girard Galleries is honoured to be a member gallery of the Kinngait Studio also known as the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative. Established in 1959, the Cooperative has enjoyed an international reputation for the exquisite prints, drawings and carvings created by its Inuit artist members. 

Governed by an all-Inuit Board of Directors, the organization also maintains a local retail grocery/hardware store, a restaurant, rental properties and various utility contracts. As a community owned organization, practically all Kinngait adults are shareholders, profits are distributed back to the community in the form of annual dividends. 


Lithography was introduced at the Kinngait Studios in the early 1970s. Unlike stonecut and etching, hand lithography requires no cutting of the printing surface. Instead, the design is simply drawn on a limestone block or aluminum plate with grease pencils or with a greasy liquid. The stone or plate is then inked with a grease-based ink while being continuously sponged with a thin film of water. The water repels the greasy ink, confining it to the area defined by the original drawing. Multi-colour prints usually require a separate stone or plate for each colour. In printing, the inked stone or plate, paper and tympan (protective covering) is cranked by hand through a press. Under tremendous pressure, the drawn image transfers to the paper. In recent years, several lithographs have included the application of chine collé. This technique involves pressing a thin sheet of sized, oriental paper to a heavier backing sheet and printing both at the same time, adding another dimension of colour and texture to the final image.



Stonecut is an elegant process and Cape Dorset printmakers have refined it to a fine art. The first step is tracing the original drawing and applying it to the smooth surface of the prepared stone. Using india ink, the stonecutter delineates the drawing on the stone and then cuts away the areas that are not to appear in print, leaving the uncut areas raised, or in relief. The raised area is inked using rollers and then a thin sheet of paper - usually fine, handmade Japanese paper - is placed over the inked surface. A protective sheet of tissue is placed over this sheet, and the paper is pressed gently against the stone by hand with a small, padded disc. Only one print can be pulled from each inking of the stone, so the edition takes time and patience and care.


The native peoples of the far north have been making artworks out of bone, stone or ivory for thousands of years. Most of the earliest carvings were of utilitarian objects and tools that were decorated and often embellished with figurative imagery. Later the Inuit began trading small carvings of animals and other representational pieces with European whalers and other travelers.


Dorset Fine Arts Studio & Girard Galleries

Dorset Fine Arts was established in Toronto in 1978 as the wholesale marketing division of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative and is unique among the Arctic Co-operatives for its focus on the arts and artists of the community. Dorset Fine Arts was established to develop and serve the market for Inuit fine art produced by the artist members of the Co-operative.

The Annual Graphics Collection from Cape Dorset has been released since 1959 and the Co-operative also represents many acclaimed sculptors and graphic artists. Sales and exhibitions of prints, drawings and sculptures are made through the Dorset Fine Arts showroom in Toronto to galleries around the world.

Photo from right to left, Raymond Hatfield, Associate Advisor, John Western Dorset Fine Arts Manager, Melanie Girard Owner of Girard Galleries, in the Dorset Fine Arts Studio in Toronto, Canada

All rights reserved. Copyrights of the works of art reproduced herein are the properties of the artists. Reproductions by special arrangement with the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative Ltd., agents for the artists who own the copyright of the works of art.

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