This exhibition is a groundbreaking inquiry into Japanese influences in the early years of the Cape Dorset print studio. Some fifty years ago, James Houston introduced this small community on South Baffin Island to printmaking as a potential source of income. To learn more about printmaking himself, Houston travelled to Japan in 1959 to study woodcut printmaking with one of the world’s leading masters, Un’ichi Hiratsuka. The remarkable story of that cross-cultural artistic encounter and its extraordinary results are shown in this exhibition in three main sections:
A Leap into the Unknown (1957-1958): Inuit printmaking in the short period before Japanese influence.
Lessons with a Japanese Master (1958-1959): Houston’s stay in Japan when he apprenticed with Japanese master, Un’ichi Hiratsuka. Drawings he created in ink and watercolor are highlighted, as well as several of his prints.
Japanese Inspiration (1959-1963): Early Inuit prints in juxtaposition with Japanese prints brought to Cape Dorset by Houston in 1959, revealing their similarities and differences. As the main focus of the exhibition, works shown are black-and-white stonecut Inuit prints inspired by Hiratsuka, rare Inuit stonecut rubbings, and stencil prints by Inuit artists Kananginak Pootoogook, Lukta Qiatsuk and Kenojuak Ashevak, among others.
Inuit Prints, Japanese Inspiration is a travelling exhibition produced by the Canadian Museum of Civilization. It is curated by Dr. Norman Vorano and accompanied by an illustrated catalogues in English and French.