Collection of Inuit sculptures

Twenty-six Inuit sculptures in stone, from the Baker Lake region (in the Navanut territory of Canada), from a private collection have been donated to the King Baudouin Foundation so as to ensure their preservation for future generations. They can be seen at the Centre d’Interprétation de la Pierre, in Sprimont (Liege).


Inuit sculptures

In the far north of Canada, almost at the Arctic Circle, the Baker Lake region is one of the most active centres of contemporary Inuit sculpture. Very simple, but extremely expressive and imaginative, Inuit art takes the form of sculptures in basalt, an exceptionally hard volcanic stone that is very dark grey, but which appears black when polished.


Writing with stone

Inuit art is considered to be a mode of expression in its own right. “The Inuit sculpt what is traditional. They sculpt what they have seen, things they remember. Since they do not write on paper, they commit their thoughts to their sculptures” (Luke Tunguag of Baker Lake).


The subjects of a changing society

The subjects evoked in Inuit sculpture are traditional themes and speak of the unity that exists between humans and animals, as well as between humans themselves (the family). Such themes include those of hunting and fishing, travel on land or sea, wild animals (such as bears, the muskox, birds and caribous), myths, legends and shamanism, but also meetings with societies from the south. To approach Inuit art is to explore the subjects of a changing society. The Inuit describe and recall their past, the importance and place of nature, their spirituality as well as modernity.

A unique collection

It was whilst travelling for work that Yolande Juste and Réginald-Ferdinand Poswick had the opportunity to discover Inuit art and meet some of the artists from the Baker Lake Inuit community. « We were able to talk with them, see their conditions and methods of work, their family environment and the overall context in which this ‘primitive or contemporary native art’ was developing whilst being under the immediate and tangible threat of American consumerism”. Absolutely enchanted by this art form, the collectors built up over time a collection of 26 sculptures, which they have donated to the King Baudouin Foundation, in order to assure the safe keeping of this primitive contemporary art.

Permanent exhibition

These 26 sculptures in stone can now be enjoyed at the Centre d’Interprétation de la Pierre, to which the KBF has entrusted the collection. The recently-restored Centre has also benefitted from support from the Foundation, which enabled it to create a permanent space for the Inuit sculptures.

Inuit sculptures in Sprimont

The working and shaping of stone has been a tradition in Sprimont for decades, whether at the stonemasons’ apprenticeship school or through the annual sculpture symposia held there. From the local to the most far away, and from the monumental to the more intimate. This collection of Inuit sculptures is an invitation to travel, to discover the other, to explore what unites and what divides us. The exhibition is an invitation to a form of poetry endowed with great expressive force, which translates a mode of expression in a community for which access to writing came very late.