Simon Shaimaiyuk (1915 – 1999) was a graphic artist, printmaker and sculptor born in Umanaqjuaq (Blacklead Island), NU. Shaimaiyuk later settled in Panniqtuuq (Pangnirtung), NU, with his family. Although he carved occasionally, Shaimaiyuk was most well-known for his drawings and prints, many of which were derived from the artist’s memories and visions, as well as Inuit stories. Through his work, he hoped to accurately portray and relay the difficulties faced by his generation .
Shaimaiyuk’s piece At the Fishing Place of My Father (1979), provides the viewer with an expansive, yet barren landscape that seems to go on and on past the limits of its chosen frame. The tinted edges of this oblong space almost fade away as if the scene was emerging in the artist’s mind as a distant dream. Immortalizing oral histories from his earlier life in print and in pencil for future Inuk to see, was of utmost importance to Shaimaiyuk. Quickly realizing the impact that his art could have, the artist would include inscriptions in his later works, usually written in syllabics, which overtly described the historical value of his drawings .
Shaimaiyuk’s works have primarily been featured in exhibitions across Canada, including the two year-long touring show Arctic Vision (1984-1986) from the Crown-Indigenous and Northern Affairs Department in Ottawa, ON. A number of his pieces were also included in the Pangnirtung Annual Print Collections from the 1970s to the 1990s. Some of Shaimaiyuk’s most recognizable pieces may now be found within public collections such as the Canada Council Art Bank in Ottawa, ON, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Manitoba, among others.
1992: Received a grant from the Government of Northwest Territories Arts Council to complete a series of 50-75 coloured pencil drawings depicting how Inuit elders see the world.
1. July Papatsie, “Historic Events and Cultural Reality: Drawings of Simon Shaimaiyuk,” Inuit Art Quarterly 2, no. 1 (Spring 1997): 21.
2. Ibid., 22.