Events > Artist Talk/Lecture

15 Mar. 2007

Artist talk with Wallace Brannen

Wallace Brannen
Peter Pitseolak and Pudlo Pudlat
7 pm

Art Metropole is pleased to present Halifax lithographer Wallace Brannen for an artist talk, Prints to Books from NSCAD to Cape Dorset. Wallace Brannen was Master Printer at the Lithography Workshop of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design during the historically important early years of the 1970s. Over that time NSCAD’s focus shifted from the production of artists’ prints to artists’ books and multiples which were published by the Lithography Workshop (Weiner, Buren, Heubler and others). Ultimately, this led to the creation of NSCAD’s press under the direction of Kasper Koenig. Near the end of the Lithography Workshop’s active life, Brannen left NSCAD for a decade long stay in Cape Dorset, Nunavut. There he served as art advisor to the West Baffin Eskimo Co-Op and its internationally known Inuit graphic artists.

While these two very different collaborative working relationships might seem incongruous, it is certain that lessons learned at NSCAD prompted considerable change in Cape Dorset and both very successful programs have interesting parallels for publishing situations in other artist directed organizations. Brannen will talk about wrapping up lithography at NSCAD, and his work in Cape Dorset – a more pure-form artist run workshop. The change will be illustrated with art published by NSCAD and its transition from fine art prints to The NSCAD Press.

The role of the sensitive, servile technician as artist’s helper and collaborator will be discussed in relation to the hot-bed conceptualism of NSCAD and the Inuit art of Cape Dorset. The work of Peter Pitseolak (clan leader, photographer and artist) along with that of Pudlo Pudlat (consummate artist and first solo Inuit exhibitor at the National Gallery of Canada) will illustrate an interesting transition of ideas dedicated to the production of artists’ multiples.

Please join us for some intellectual stimulation and, of course, a cocktail.

Wallace Brannen was Master Printer at the Lithography Workshop of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design during the historically important early years of the 1970s

Peter Pitseolak (2 September 1902, Nottingham Island, Northwest Territories—September 30, 1973, Cape Dorset, Northwest Territories) was an Inuit photographer, sculptor, artist and historian.

He lived most of his life in traditional Inuit camps near Cape Dorset, on the southwest coast of Baffin Island, now in the Canadian territory of Nunavut. This was a time of great social and technological change among the Inuit, from nomadic life to permanent settlements, from spears to rifles, from dogteams to snowmobiles. Airplanes, electric generators and Western clothing were also changing the human environment. Pitseolak dedicated himself to preserving knowledge of the old ways, by writing, sketching, and especially photography. He documented customs, hunting techniques, stories and myths. His brother was Pootoogoo, a chief.

In 1912 Pitseolak met photographer Robert J. Flaherty. Flaherty, best known today for his documentary movie Nanook of the North (1922), inspired Pitseolak’s interest in photography. It was not until the 1930s, however, that Pitseolak took his first recorded photograph. This was for a white visitor who was afraid to approach a polar bear for a shot. Pitseolak took the photo for him, using the visitor’s camera.

In 1923 Pitseolak married Annie from Kimmirut. They had seven children, of whom only two daughters, Udluriak and Kooyoo, survived. Annie died of tuberculosis in 1939.

In the 1940s Pitseolak was living in Cape Dorset working for fur-traders when he acquired his first camera, from a Catholic missionary. With the help of his second wife Aggeok (1906-1977), he developed his first photographs in a hunting igloo. Many difficulties had to be overcome, including extreme climate changes, high light levels from the reflective snowscape, and the difficulty of obtaining film and developer. Peter and Aggeok experimented. They used a battery-powered flashlight covered with red cloth as a safelight, and a lens filter made from old sunglasses.

He was a sculptor; His soapstone carving of a bear was presented to the Royal Military College of Canada on Oct 3 1970 by the class of 1920-24.

He was also a painter, executing a series of watercolors in 1939 for John Buchan, later 2nd Baron Tweedsmuir, son of Governor General John Buchan, 1st Baron Tweedsmuir. The younger Tweedsmuir was a fur trader with the Hudson’s Bay Company at the time.

Pitseolak wrote various diaries, notes and manuscripts, all in Inuktitut syllabics. Along with Dorothy Harley Eber he published People From Our Side (1975), the story of his early life, and Peter Pitseolak’s Escape From Death (1977), an account of a near disaster among the ice floes.

He photographed himself, his family, and community members in real situations, and also posing with traditional clothing and implements. Pitseolak made more than 2,000 photographs of the disappearing way of life over more than twenty years. In 1961, at the age of 59, he left his camp at Keatuk and returned to settlement life at Cape Dorset. After his death in 1973, more than 1,500 negatives and photographs were purchased from his widow for the National museums of Canada (now part of Canadian Museum of Civilization).

The famed sculptor Okpik Pitseolak (b. 1946) is the wife of Peter’s son Mark Pitseolak. According to Terry Ryan, former manager of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, Pitseolak’s nephew, Kananginak Pootoogook, greatly admired and was influenced by his uncle.

(from wikipedia)

Pudlo Pudlat (Pudlo) (February 4, 1916 at Kamadjuak Camp, Baffin Island, Canada, – December 28, 1992 at Cape Dorset) was a widely known Inuit artist whose preferred medium was a combination of acrylic wash and coloured pencils. His works are in the collections of most Canadian museums. At his death in 1992, Pudlo left a body of work that included more than 4000 drawings and 200 prints.

Pudlo Pudlat lived for much of his life in the Kimmirut region in what is now the Canadian province of Nunavut, hunting and fishing with his family along the southwest coast of Baffin Island. Pudlo began drawing in the early 1960s after he abandoned the semi-nomadic way of life and settled in Cape Dorset. He experienced firsthand the radical transformation of life in the Arctic that occurred in the 20th Century and reached its peak in the 1950s.

Until he was six, he lived around Coral Harbour; later, he moved to the region of Lake Harbour, now called Kimmirut. In the late 1950s, when he was already in his 40s, he moved to Kiaktuuq near Cape Dorset to recover from a bout of tuberculosis. It was there he met Inuit art pioneer James Archibald Houston and began his career as an artist.

Pudlo spent 33 years creating art. He began by carving sculpture, but he found carving difficult because of an arm injury, so he switched to drawing around 1959 or 1960. Initially encouraged by James Houston and then by Terry Ryan of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative, he embraced drawing and later printmaking and painting as these media were introduced in the north. Pudlo occasionally traveled south and to other parts of the Arctic for medical treatment. The objects he encountered his travels, especially airplanes, are prominent in his subject matter.

In 1972 one of Pudlo’s prints was selected for reproduction on a UNICEF greeting card. Pudlo travelled to Ottawa to attend the opening of an exhibition of the works. He remembered it as the first work for which he was invited south and accorded public recognition.

Pudlo’s last prints appear in the annual Cape Dorset Print collection and catalogue of 1993.

Chronology of Pudlo’s artistic career

1990 – Opening of Pudlo: Thirty Years of Drawing, the first solo show for an Inuit artist at the National Gallery of Canada. 1989 – Travelled to Mannheim, Germany to attend the opening of his solo exhibition at the Inuit Galerie. 1980 – A single lithograph commission In Celebration was undertaken by Pudlo, to commemorate the anniversary of the Canadian Guild of Crafts in Montreal, Quebec. This work is also included in the annual Cape Dorset print catalogue in 1980. 1979 – Commissioned by the Canadian Guild of Crafts Quebec, Montreal to create a lithograph to commemorate the first exhibition of contemporary Inuit art held at the Guild in Montreal. 1979 – Queen Elizabeth Hotel Commission. Honouring 29 “Great Montrealers” Pudlo produced a lithograph entitled Shores of the Settlement. The print was included in the annual Cape Dorset print collection and catalogue in 1979. The artist travelled to Montreal to attend the presentation. 1978 – Commissioned by the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development to create two designs to be silkscreened onto banners for the DIAND headquarters lobby in Ottawa; Pudlo travelled to Oakville, Ontario to work on the designs at Sheridan College. 1978 – Pudlo’s 1976 print Aeroplane was reproduced on a Canadian postage stamp. 1976 – Pudlo was one of four Kinngait (Cape Dorset) artists commissioned to produce a collection of prints for the first UN Habitat Conference which was held in Vancouver, Canada. The prints appeared in the annual Cape Dorset print collection and catalogue in 1981. 1976 – Attended the Toronto opening of the annual Kinngait (Cape Dorset) print collection at the Innuit Gallery of Eskimo Art. 1972 – Pudlo Pudlat’s design, along with designs by four other Canadian Inuit artists, was chosen for a series of UNICEF greeting cards.

Pudlo’s art is characterized by a playful sense of humour and a fascination with the trappings of modern life, especially airplanes. His early drawings are simple outlines made with lead pencil. In the mid-1960s, Pudlo began to work with coloured pencils and felt-tipped pens, and his art became more elaborate. In many ways Pudlo’s work symbolizes the paradoxes of the encounter between traditional Inuit culture and modern life.

Pudlo’s works over the years demonstrate his keen visual sense, his versatility and innovativeness in subject matter and technique — tempered by his sense of humour — his knowledge of traditional life on the land, and his acknowledgement of the changing times…. Pudlo’s thinking/drawing process is a truly creative approach, done both consciously and unconsciously. In the 1978 Cape Dorset print catalogue (page 67) Pudlo talks about his drawing: At times when I draw, I am happy, but sometimes it is very hard. I have been drawing a long time now. I only draw what I think, but sometimes I think the pencil has a brain too._

- Jean Blodgett, Grasp Tight the Old Ways, 1983

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