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20 Carvers to Know in 2020: Kakkee Ningosiaq

Jan 08, 2020
by John Geoghegan

The writhing bodies and unique formations of schools of fish and pods of narwhal and beluga might seem impossible subjects to capture in a fixed, three-dimensional form, but for Kakkee Ningeosiaq the challenge is part of the fun. Ningeosiaq, who lives in Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU, has been making and exhibiting work for nearly 30 years and in that time has honed his skills and expanded his imagination to create highly individual and immediately recognizable work.

For Ningeosiaq, an avid hunter and fisherman, the aquatic animals he carves are familiar and have become a favourite subject. “I started carving them for myself, because I liked them,” he explains. In the years since, his distinct works have become highly prized. In August 2019 the Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, ON, unveiled School of Fish, a massive sculpture in bronze modelled off an original steatite version by Ningeosiaq. The piece shows four Arctic char swimming downwards, their tails connected with negative space cradling each of the slender fish.

Ningeosiaq’s skills are often hidden in his work. Narwhal Composition (c. 2014) shows five of the creatures swimming upwards, each uniquely rendered in a varying position of ascent. The composition is so elegant and sinuous that the artist’s effort to keep the piece balanced and stable is nearly invisible. When asked what he saw in his future career as an artist, Ningeosiaq responded, “I am excited to make more.”

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