tapestry showing Inuit couple and igloo.
A red tapestry.

Tapestry of Change

Inuit Art in Context

On view June 9 – October 2, 2022

The Vancouver Maritime Museum houses a collection of Inuit art. The 52 pieces are the work of Inuit artists in the 1960s and 1970s. Until recently we didn’t know much about the people who created these works. VMM staff has worked with the Museum of Anthropology to identify many of the creators of these pieces. We’ve also learned about the communities the artists came from.

Tapestry of Change will highlight textiles, prints and flat artwork from the collections. This includes:

  • duffle wall hangings
  • a skin wall hanging
  • an elaborate macrame tapestry which uses knot-work to spell out the Inuktitut alphabet

The Inuktitut alphabet shown in the macrame tapestry is a 4-vowel system which is no longer in use in Nunavut. Today Nunavut uses a 3-vowel system. The 4-vowel system is still used in Nunavik.

One of the duffle hangings by Veronica Kadjuak Manilak is designed in the shape of a seal skin which is being prepared for stretching. This is Manilak’s original design. Another duffle wall hanging made by Issakiark at Arvat uses a technique of bleaching caribou hide that is unique to Nanavut.

Each piece reveals something about northern communities and the artists. The circular duffle wall hanging by Cecile Kanayok Kabalik features elements of humor, for example.

The artists will be credited for their skillful work at Tapestry of Change. The exhibition will also explore the context in which the pieces were created. This will include an examination of the forces of change that gave rise to artist communities in the North. And you’ll be invited to explore questions around museums holding these kinds of collections.

Senator Arrthur Laing donated the 52 pieces to the Vancouver Maritime Museum. He acquired the pieces while working as Minister of Northern Affairs (1963) and Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development (1966).