Guests Access Pre-Launch Digital Art Site Iningat Ilagiit

As part of One Ocean Expeditions’ commitment to supporting the art and culture of the North, we are thrilled to partner with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. On our inaugural ‘South Baffin: Art, Culture and Wildlife’ voyage, McMichael curators will be showcasing the work of the artists of Kinngait (Cape Dorset). 

“One Ocean Expeditions’ partnership with the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is a true alignment of values. We are thrilled to work together in order to share, preserve, and reunite Inuit kinship and culture through art. Our extensive commitment in the Arctic is deeply rooted in community connections, and we look forward to strengthening those relationships and celebrating the art of the North with the rest of Canada and beyond.” Catherine Lawton, General Manager, One Ocean Expeditions. 

Guests on this expedition have pre-launch access to a digital art site called Iningat Ilagiit, developed by the McMichael, with major federal support from the Virtual Museum of Canada Investment Program. 

Since the late 1950s, residents of Kinngait have produced thousands of drawings, only a few of which were published and distributed as limited-edition prints. In the Cape Dorset Print Shop, original drawings by Inuit artists were translated into stone cuts, lithographs and etchings for sale in the South. 

Inuit Art Exhibition
Credit: Alain Iyerak (born 1920), Caribou, c. 1975, antler with black coloured incising and stone, 55.5 x 113.5 x 30.5 cm, Purchase 1985, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1985.10.A-.E

In 1992, after a disastrous fire in Baker Lake that destroyed the studio and its holdings, the Board of the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative (WBEC) in Kinngait transferred their archive of nearly 100,000 drawings and prints to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection to be preserved and made accessible via technology. Kinngait Studios (the art studio arm of the West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative) continues to purchase drawings directly from Kinngait artists to support their work and provide them with an income. This work is sold through their marketing arm, Dorset Fine Arts. 

Iningat Ilagiit, meaning ‘a place for family’, represents the first step towards giving people access to the Cape Dorset Archive. It is an interactive site that enables users to search for artists and artworks through thousands of drawings from the Cape Dorset Archive. Nearly 4,000 drawings have been digitalized so far, with many thousands more set to be digitalized and added to the site in the coming six months. 

Inuit Art Drawing
sample of Inuit art drawing

Visitors to the site will be able to browse the artwork, save a selection or create their own exhibition. A unique web tool offers the ability to arrange the selected works in a virtual exhibition that can then be shared with others. 

Iningat Ilagiit is envisioned as a space for Inuit and Northern communities to connect with their own art and contribute to the important work of sharing Kinngait history and culture; for scholars and curators to use as a research tool; and for Inuit art lovers to appreciate the incredible history of the artistic output of Kinngait. 

These drawings and prints continue to be digitized and Iningat Ilagiit is now the home of the online version of the Cape Dorset Archive. It will launch publicly in November, 2019.