Our First Wooden Home

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 a house composed of yellow and red horizontal planks with a pitched roof and two windows. There are three human figures standing in the foreground with two fish at their feet: the largest figure at the centre is a woman and is holding the hand of a smaller figure standing in profile to his left; the remaining figure is walking away from the central figure. Below the image is written, "Our first wooden home lithograph 33/50 Dorset 1979 Eegyvudluk," and the name of the artist written in Inuit syllabics. The name of the printmaker is printed in Inuit sullabics along with the Cape Dorset stylized red igloo seal in the bottom left-hand corner. The Canadian Eskimo Arts Council and the Cape Dorset Cooperative blind embossed stamps are in the lower right-hand corner.