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Nelson Takkiruq

Nelson Takkiruq was an artist based in Uqsuqtuuq (Gjoa Haven), NU, and was a talented carver who worked primarily in stone and whalebone. Takkiruq began to carve as a youth, and was influenced by the highly art and artists his community and region including his brothers, artists Judas Ullulaq (1937-1999) and Charlie Ugyuk (1931-1999) [1]. Takkiruq was also a highly respected hunter and elder.

Takkiruq’s work reveals his broad knowledge of Inuit legends, lore and life on the land, resulting in instantly recognizable works that are also stylistically similar to his brother, Judas Ullulaq. Takkiruq’s carvings demonstrate his keen ability to create expressive faces and gestures in his subjects, with wide eyes and contored mouths communicating terror or mischief. One of Takkiruq’s recurring themes focuses on the story of Amayuqyuq, a creature known for abducting children. This story was often told as a precautionary tale to keep children from wandering too far from camp [2]. This story can be seen in his piece Amayuqyuq Abducting a Child (n.d.), where the child, made from whalebone, has a distressed expression whilst clutched in the grasp of Amayuqyuq herself.  Another example of what may be a similar story can be seen in Bear Woman Packing Screaming Girl (1990). Viewed in the round, the sculpture shows the child’s terrified expression of a child that is caught under the arm of the bear woman, whose paws are the only visible indication of her supernatural power [3]. Lastly, in Takkiruq’s work Spirit (n.d.), he conveys emotion and movement in his subjects that look as if they are caught int the midst of a conversation, with their mouth open in speech.

Takkiruq’s work was exhibited throughout Canada and internationally. In addition to working as an artist, Takkiruq was also passionate about teaching and sharing his craft with younger generations in Uqsuqtuuq [4]. He also contributed his time to arts organizations such as the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association (NACA), sitting on the selection jury for the newly created collection in 1998.


  1. IAQ, “In Memoriam,” Inuit Art Quarterly 14, no. 3 (1999): 56.
  2. Darlene Coward Wight, Art and Expression of the Netsilik Winnipeg, MB: Winnipeg Art Gallery (2000): 169.
  3. Ibid., 169
  4. IAQ, “In Memoriam,” Inuit Art Quarterly 14, no. 3 (1999): 56.