Story by Team Outpost
Photos by Simon Vaughan and Will Allen
Stories Told Through Soapstone and Tusk
After hot showers and an amazing dinner of caribou stroganoff, we set off to explore Cape Dorset, one of Canada’s most famed arts communities.
In the 1950s, Canadian artist James Houston travelled to the eastern Arctic to work as a civil administrator. While there, he came across small Inuit carvings that so impressed him he took them back to Montreal. Eventually, he was hired by the federal government to encourage and develop Inuit art based in Cape Dorset.
Behind a house, we find Toonoo Sharky busily carving an enormous block of soapstone. In most towns, the buzz of a power tool suggests construction; in Nunavut it says art. Toonoo was standing over his work, covered in dust, and deftly wielding chisels and rotary tools. Following in his grandfather’s footsteps, Toonoo began carving at age 10. Now in his 40s, his hands bear the scars of that toil, while his face displays satisfied contentment. In a back room he shows us piles of rock and stone, caribou bone and walrus tusk, all waiting to be transformed by his enormous talent.
DISCOVER MORE STORIES FROM OUR NUNAVUT ADVENTURE: