Kopinawat at Play

About this object

History of use

Contemporary Inuit prints were first produced at Cape Dorset in 1957. Although precursors to printmaking can be seen in women's skin applique work and in men's incising of ivory, stone and bone, the impetus for printmaking was as a commercial venture. This venture was established jointly by Inuit artists and John Houston, the civil administrator for Cape Dorset. Other Inuit communities quickly followed the commercial success of Cape Dorset's West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative. Printmaking developed as a communal activity following a Japanese, rather than a Western, model of serigraph production. Each year the cooperatives produce a series of limited edition prints which are sold in the retail art market. In 1965, the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council was established from the Canadian Eskimo Art Committee to ensure high standards were maintained. Printmaking, along with stone carving, provide cash income for communities which have undergone rapid and significant change, during the late 20th century, from traditional hunting based societies to settled communities dependent on consumer goods. The prevalent images depicted in Inuit art are of traditional life, arctic animals and mythology. Recently, contemporary subjects have been depicted by a minority of artists.

Cultural context

contemporary art

Physical description

Print depicting six birds in flight: the two topmost birds are green, there are two green and yellow birds, and one black bird as well as a mottled black and white bird. Each bird has a yellow stomach and chest with black legs and a beak. The name of the printmaker is printed in Inuit syllabics along with the Cape Dorset stylized red igloo seal at the upper side on the right. Below the image is written, "Kopinawat at Play stonecut and stencil 23/50 Dorset 1980 Tukikie." The name of the artist is written in Inuit syllabics near the bottom right-hand corner, and the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council's blind embossed stamp is beside it near the bottom right-hand corner.