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The Polar Bear (Arctic Bay)

Paul Machnik The Polar Bear (Arctic Bay)

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C$ 250.00 Excl. tax

2000, intaglio, 2/50, 31x42cm
Student: Ipeelee from Arctic Bay, Nunavut
Printer: Paul Machnik, Studio PM, Montreal

  • File number: MACP012


In the late-1990s, Montreal-based printmaker Paul Machnik worked with Kenojuak Ashevak, one of the most notable pioneers of modern Inuit art, to produce a printed edition titled “Small Owl.” The proceeds from the sale of this edition, along with a grant from the Canadian Millennium Partnership Fund, were used to undertake printmaking workshops throughout Nunavut shortly after Nunavut officially became a territory.

Travelling with an etching press on his back and sealifted printmaking materials, Machnik conducted workshops in eight communities: Arctic Bay, Clyde River, Hall Beach, Igloolik, Kimmirut, Pond Inlet, Qikiqtarjuaq, and Rankin Inlet. The participants were a mix of children, adults, and elders. At the end of each workshop, they chose six prints to represent their community. The final collection thus contains 48 prints. This exhibition presents Ashevak’s print alongside 14 prints from the collection.

The location and process of the workshops varied in each community. Some workshops took place in schools, while others were in community centres or churches. There were anywhere from 10 to 15 participants in each workshop. During the workshops, some participants came up with a preliminary drawing on paper; in other cases the participants worked directly on the copper or steel etching plates. There were demonstrations on the etching process and each participant had a hand in proofing the plates. In each community, 20 or 30 plates were etched and/or proofed before the final selections were made.

The Collection was exhibited at the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum (Iqaluit), Feheley Fine Arts (Toronto), Atelier Alain Piroir (Montreal), and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg). Complete sets have been added to the collection of the Nunatta Sunakkutaangit Museum, the McMichael, Trafalgar School for Girls (Montreal), and Via Rail.


Paul Machnik has been printing etchings and aquatints by Cape Dorset artists since 1994. He began Studio PM in the 1970s and has worked with many prominent Canadian artists.

Kenojuak Ashevak, CC (1927-2013) was a Canadian artist. She is internationally renowned for her tremendous accomplishments and contributions to Inuit art. Her simple compositions, bold lines and strong colours define the classic drawing Cape Dorset style. Kenojuak focuses on the process and aesthetics of drawing more than on the specifics of Inuit life and her memories. Her work is characterized by a central element—often an animal, bird, fish or human—positioned on the paper without the context of landscape or narrative devices. The most well-known example of this is The Enchanted Owl, 1960, a captivating image of an owl with radiating plumage. Considered one of her masterpieces, this work exemplifies Kenojuak's vivid imagination and intense vision. She designed several drawings for Canadian stamps and coins, and in 2004 she created the first Inuit-designed stained-glass window for the John Bell Chapel in Oakville, Ontario. In 2017, the $10 bill released in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday features Kenojuak’s stone-cut and stencil printed work called Owl’s Bouquet in silver holographic foil.