Grey Bird Item Number: Na924 from the MOA: University of British Columbia
Print depicting a large grey bird with its wings spread. Its tail and wing feathers are black-tipped, and it has yellow claws. The name of the printmaker is stamped in Inuit syllabics along with the Cape Dorset stylized red igloo seal in the lower left-hand corner. Below the image is written, "Grey Bird Lithograph 21/40 Dorset Pitaloosee 1977," as well as the name of the artist in Inuit syllabics. The Canadian Eskimo Arts Council's blind embossed stamp is in the lower right-hand corner.
Contemporary Inuit prints were first produced at Cape Dorset in 1957. Although precursors to printmaking can be seen in women's skin applique work and in men's incising of ivory, stone and bone, the impetus for printmaking was as a commercial venture. This venture was established jointly by Inuit artists and John Houston, the civil administrator for Cape Dorset. Other Inuit communities quickly followed the commercial success of Cape Dorset's West Baffin Eskimo Cooperative. Printmaking developed as a communal activity following a Japanese, rather than a Western, model of serigraph production. Each year the cooperatives produce a series of limited edition prints which are sold in the retail art market. In 1965, the Canadian Eskimo Arts Council was established from the Canadian Eskimo Art Committee to ensure high standards were maintained. Printmaking, along with stone carving, provide cash income for communities which have undergone rapid and significant change, during the late 20th century, from traditional hunting based societies to settled communities dependent on consumer goods. The prevalent images depicted in Inuit art are of traditional life, arctic animals and mythology. Recently, contemporary subjects have been depicted by a minority of artists.