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John Tiktak

John Tiktak was a carver from Kareak, NU a camp between Arviat and Tikiraqjuaq (Whale Cove) on Hudson Bay [1]. Tiktak relocated to Kangiqlliniq (Rankin Inlet), NU to work in the nickel mine but following it’s closing began carving on a full-time basis [2].

Tiktak’s carving style is decidedly minimal, partially due to the hardness of the local stone. Despite the resistance of local materials Tiktak’s sculptures undergo significant reduction, employing grooves to define facial expressions and utilizing negative space to articulate limbs. Tiktak preferred to carve rounded heads from softer material and flattened heads from stone that was denser [3]. The hands and feet of his figures are rarely distinguished from the main body, most often flowing outwards from the torso in seamless arcs. Tiktak’s stylized carvings, often depicting scenes of mothers with children, monumental heads, solitary figures and grouped faces, retain a relative degree of symmetry. The piece Human Head (1960-1969) is an exception, as a single straight line, possibly representing a scar, running parallel across the left side of the figure’s face highlights the the otherwise unaffected symmetry of the composition.

John Tiktak was the first Inuit artist to be the subject of a solo exhibition, Tiktak: Sculptor from Rankin Inlet, N.W.T at Gallery One One One at the University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB [4]. In 1973 he was inducted into the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. His works are held in several prominent Canadian collections including the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, QC and National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON.


1. “John Tiktak” Historica Canada, accessed September 12, 2017, https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/john-tiktak/.
3. Swinton, George (1999). Sculpture of the Inuit, third edition (Toronto: McClelland and Stuart) 138.
4. John Geoghegan, “Paving the Way Forward, Tiktak: An Artist and His Work,” Inuit Art Quarterly 30 no. 4 (Winter 2017): 57.