Pavinak Petaulassie

Pavinak Petaulassie  is a sculptor from Kinngait (Cape Dorset), NU. Petaulassie first learned to carve from local sculptors and his father in the 1970s [1]. Petaulassie most often depicts northern wildlife but has carved human figures such as hunters, mothers, children and a person holding a handstand. Petaulassie primarily carves in serpentine, favouring stone in laurel to dark green hues. He has stated a preference for carving in stone as he finds it easier to work with than other materials [2]. However, he does incorporate antler elements into some of his works and has on occasion carved composite sculptures from walrus ivory and stone. His style is naturalistic and robust, concentrating the volume of material in the torso of his subjects.

Petaulassie’s work is frequently identifiable by his carving technique of linking multiple individuals together from a single piece of stone. This technique is exemplified in the piece School of Fish (n.d.). The sculpture portrays a wave of fish, held at the base by the claws and belly of a polar bear. The shapes of the fish represented in the sculpture are diverse, occupying a spectrum of bulbous heads and elongated bodies. Petaulassie skilfully evokes a sense of synchronous movement within the piece, the flow of the current visualized in the wavelike formation of the school and the sinuous articulation of each individual’s body. The composition avoids becoming overly dense by Petaulassie’s effective use of negative space and careful delineation of each figure. A similar sculpture of Petaulassie’s titled School of Fish (2013) is held in the permanent collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg, MB [3].


1. “Pavinak Petaulassie 1961-,” Dorset Fine Arts, accessed March 21, 2018.
2. Ibid.
3. “Pavinaq Petaulassie: School of Fish (2013),” Winnipeg Art Gallery, accessed March 21, 2018.,result/69282.