Parr (1893 - 1969)

Narwhal Gallery: Parr - The Hunters

Detail from The Hunters, 1962
Stonecut, Approx. 32 x 37 inches (HxW), Cape Dorset

Parr was born in 1893 in a remote campsite, in the area of Kinngait (Cape Dorset), on the southern coast of Qikiqtaaluk [Baffin Island], Nunavut. Parr and his wife Eleeshushe lived a traditional nomadic hunting life, wintering at Tessikjakjuak 'Fish Lakes' and spending the summer at Tikerak or Nita camp, until poor health, a serious hunting accident and increasing age forced him to move to Kinngait in late 1961 where he died in Nov 1969.

Encouraged by Terry Ryan, he began to draw using graphite on paper during the spring of 1961 aged 68. One of the few artists from the community to seldom depict myth or shamanic transformation in his work, Parr is best known for his narrative drawings of animals, hunters and the hunt. The images that populate his drawings and prints are memories recalled from his early years as a hunter living on the land. He favoured the stonecut and stencil method of printmaking and never fully embraced the engraving medium. He also enjoyed working in coloured pencil, pastel and felt-tip pen in addition to graphite when executing his drawings.

In his short artistic career he produced over 2000 drawings and contributed 34 prints to the annual Cape Dorset print collections, specifically catalogued as a retrospective. Filled with animals and hunters and drawn in a distinctive, primitive style, with little regard for naturalism or perspective, Parr's naive images are powerful expressions of an old man's love for a disappearing way of life. Often considered crude and childish, his works were largely unappreciated during his lifetime. Only after his death were there major exhibitions of his work, and a posthumously published print, Hunters of Old, was selected for a 1977 Canadian postage stamp.

His work is found in all significant private and public Inuit Art collections worldwide and is fetching increasing auction prices whenever it comes to the market. In the UK both the British Museum and Scott Polar Centre hold examples of his work. We are delighted to be able to also show two further generations of Parr at this exhibition, his adoptive son Nuna and grandson Peter, both accomplished sculptors.