Kellypalik Qimirpik (1948–2017 Kinngait), Walrus, n.d., serpentinite, 6 x 7 x 5.5 in COURTESY SPIRIT WRESTLER GALLERY
The Inuit Art Quarterly was sad to learn that Kinngait (Cape Dorset) sculptor Kellypalik Qimirpik (1948–2017) passed away earlier this year. He first learned to carve from his brother Allashua Atsiaq in his teens and began carving seriously in his twenties. He preferred to depict Arctic animals and carved polar bears, seals and walruses to appeal to the wider art market.
He was an avid carver, and his career was marked by important commissions and exhibitions. In 2002, he was involved in a large sculptural project in Toronto’s former Battery Park (now The Toronto Inukshuk Park); his 30 foot high inuksuk sculpture was installed to commemorate World Youth Day and the visit of Pope John Paul II to Toronto. Kellypalik created the maquette and selected the rose granite from Dryden, Ontario as it is a similar colour to stone found around Kinngait. Kellypalik carved the individual components from 50 tonnes of stone while heavy machinery put the sculpture into place. In addition to this major project, Kellypalik’s work was exhibited across Canada and internationally, including the decade long touring exhibition Masters of the Arctic: An Exhibition of Contemporary Inuit Masterworks.
Most recently, his work Man Carrying Stone (2010) was included in the spread “From Quarry to Co-op: The Art of Stone” in the most recent, Spring Issue (30.1) of Inuit Art Quarterly. After the magazine went to press, the IAQ team learned of Kellypalik’s passing earlier in 2017. We would like to express our most sincere condolences to Kellypalik’s family and friends as well as celebrate his significant contribution to Inuit art.