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Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration
January 21 – March 15, 2011
Embassy of Canada Prince Takamado Gallery

November 16, 2010

Polar Bear and Cub in Ice, Niviasi, 1959, (c) Dorset Fine Arts, Canadian Museum of Civilization, Photo: (c) CMCC, M-L. Deruaz
Polar Bear and Cub in Ice,
Niviasi, 1959,
© Dorset Fine Arts,
Canadian Museum of Civilization
Photo: © CMCC, M-L. Deruaz

Exhibition Announcement

The Embassy of Canada presents an exhibition focusing on Japanese influences during the early years (late 1950s and early 1960s) of the Cape Dorset studio, the oldest and most successful printmaking enterprise in Canada's Far North.

Some fifty years ago, the small community of Cape Dorset in the Canadian Arctic was introduced to the ancient traditions of Japanese printmaking. James Houston, then a government employee, introduced printmaking to Cape Dorset in 1957 as a potential source of income for the Inuit. To learn more about printmaking himself, Houston travelled the next year to Japan to study for three months with Un'ichi Hiratsuka, one of the world's leading masters of the art. Houston went back to the Arctic in 1959 to share his knowledge and his collection of Japanese prints with the fledgling printmakers of Cape Dorset.

Ever since, Inuit printmakers have used the medium to express their creativity and to document their history and culture. In the process, they have won international acclaim and achieved unprecedented commercial success.

The remarkable story of that artistic encounter and its extraordinary result are the focus of "Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration." It comprises 49 original works of art, including some of the rarest and earliest Cape Dorset prints and the actual Japanese prints by Un'ichi Hiratsuka, Shiko Munakata, and other Japanese artists, that were brought to Cape Dorset in 1959, inspiring Inuit artists such as Kananginak Pootoogook and Lukta Qiatsuk. By juxtaposing the works, the exhibition reveals the many ways in which the Cape Dorset artists creatively "localized" Japanese influences. Among the many highlights are rare Inuit stonecut rubbings, powerful black-and-white stonecut prints created by Inuit artists who were inspired by Hiratsuka, and stencil prints created by Inuit artists inspired by the Japanese kappazuri technique.

The exhibition also features a display of a stonecut print block and early printmaking tools that Cape Dorset artists created and used in the late 1950s, modeling them after the Japanese tools Houston introduced into the community.

"Inuit Prints: Japanese Inspiration" is a travelling exhibition produced by the Canadian Museum of Civilization.


Date: January 21 – March 15, 2011

  • Weekdays 9:00-17:30
  • Wednesdays 9:00-20:00
  • Closed on weekends and February 11

Place: Embassy of Canada Prince Takamado Gallery
(7-3-38 Akasaka, Minato-ku, Tokyo)

Admission: Free

Contact: Embassy of Canada, Public Affairs Section (Tel: 03-5412-6257)

Media contact: Ryuko Iikubo (Tel: 03-5412-6347)




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