Flossie Papidluk



Flossie Papidluk was an artist from Ulukhaktok (Holman), NT. Papidluk produced many drawings throughout her lifetime that were turned into prints by printmakers in Ulukhaktok. Papidluk was born near Read Island in what is now Nunavut. She spent the earlier part of her life living on the land and travelling seasonally, sometimes meeting up with other groups to form larger camps.  She travelled with her first husband Akoakhion to Banks Island, NT where their son Harry Egotak was born [1]. After Akoakhion’s death, she married her second husband Harry Niakoalok and the family relocated to Ulukhaktok.

To support her family, Papidluk began producing artwork and other crafts [2]. Her tapestry Fishing Through Ice represents an earlier initiative by Father Henri Tardy to bring the art market Ulukhaktok by experimenting with sealskin stencils [3]. In 1964 Barry Coomber was sent to the community by the Canadian government to introduce stonecut printmaking techniques to the Co-op, which prompted Papidluk to begin drawing as a means of income.

Papidluk’s prints were created using the stonecut printmaking techniques introduced by Coomber (popularised elsewhere by James Houston) prior to the influence of stencils or lithography [4]. Her prints featured bold shapes with definitive edges and detailed lines. Many of her works were done in a solid red or black. Exhausted Bear (1968) is an example of this technique, which depicts a hunter and dog in pursuit of a large polar bear. Papidluk imparts both the directionality and spatial relationship of the figures within the landscape by the movement of the dog’s body and stance of the hunter without directly visualizing rocks, hills, streams, or any other landmarks on the ground. Additionally, she frequently produced birds, such as the piece Nesting Loons (1979), and created a narrative of community events and traditions within her work. Her son, Harry Egotak, is often credited for turning her drawings into prints. Between 1966 and 1984 Papidluk contributed eleven prints to the Ulukhaktok Print Collection. Although known for her prints, Papidluk preferred to sew and was an avid seamstress. Her daughter, Margaret Kanayuk, has memories of her mother constantly sewing clothing, stuffed animals and sealskin tapestries [5]. 

Papidluk’s work was included in the exhibition Holman: Forty Years of Graphic Art, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery from March 2001 - 2004. She was also featured in the online exhibition and publication of the same name. She was frequently part of group exhibitions of prints from Ulukhaktok that took place in Canada and the United States, and her work is held in the collections of the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, and University of Alberta Art Collection, Edmonton. Papidluk lived to the age of 90, passing away in 1994.



Citations/Footnotes

1. Darlene Coward Wight, “Harry Egotak, b.1925”, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, last modified 2002. http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Holman/english/artists/index.php3#c21. 
2. Darlene Coward Wight, “Flossie Papidluk, *1904-1994”, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, last modified 2002. http://www.virtualmuseum.ca/Exhibitions/Holman/english/artists/index.php3#c21. 3. “Printmaking”, Northwest Territories Arts, accessed December 15th, 2017. http://nwtarts.com/printmaking. 
4. Ibid. 
5. Wight, “Flossie Papidluk”, 2002.