Syllabic Translator

i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Jessie Oonark Oc, Rca , ᔪᓯ ᐃᓇ


JESSIE OONARK (1906-1985), E2-384, BAKER LAKE

felt tip, coloured pencil, and graphite drawing, dated 1968, signed in syllabics, unframed

19" x 23" — 48.3 x 58.4 cm.

Work acquired from Jack & Sheila Butler by the vendor.

“In this drawing Oonark’s traditional arched igloo shape has an added complexity: wing-like structures emerging from each side so that the overall shape mimics an aerial view of an airplane. The ‘wings’ provide a platform on which the two men outside the igloo stand.

The drawing has a joyous, playful feeling: the figures in the igloo are drawn clambering up various levels of the interior space. This may well be an abstracted depiction of the family members playing acrobatics on sinew strings extended between the walls of the igloo. An activity that kept them amused during the long winters, it was played largely by the men (shown in the first, second and fourth register). Interestingly, children, shown in the third layer, can be identified by their clothing – a one-piece suit including feet (atajut) on the right and on the left, a modified atajut with the traditional pointed ‘tail’ sewn on the back.

Outside, a man with bolos stands on one of the ‘wings’ as he aims at birds perched on top of the igloo.  The man on the left is dressed in a Back River (Utkuhikhalingmiut) parka with the longer squared-off back flap; the man on the right, the Baker Lake parka (Qairnirmiut) with a straight lower edge. Depicting various clothing styles was something Oonark enjoyed, making these drawings significant not only as great works of art but as documents of Inuit culture.”

Interpretation provided by Cynthia Waye (curator of From The Centre, The Drawings of Luke Anguhadluq, Art Gallery of Ontario, 1993), April 2015

Estimate: $2,500—3,500

Auction Results

Auction Date Auction House Lot # Low Est High Est Sold Price
2015-06-01 Waddington's 176 2,500 3,500 4,080.00

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