For our 30th anniversary issue, the IAQ asked 15 leading figures in Inuit art to nominate an early-career artist to watch. In turn, those artists selected a senior talent who has inspired them. The result is “30 Artists to Know”, an expansive portfolio exploring the intergenerational, familial and community-based bonds that are made visible through art.
It is very exciting to work with an artist who continually strives to take his work to a new level. Barry Pottle is just such an artist. Originally from Rigolet, Nunatsiavut, NL, and now living in Ottawa, Barry has worked for years with the Indigenous arts community in the South. Always interested in photography, he has spent many years in his adopted city capturing images that reflect the culture, activities, concerns and life of the largest urban population of Inuit outside the North. Barry, who believes that the concept of Urban Inuit is for the most part unexplored, captures the uniqueness of this community through the camera lens.
Barry has now moved beyond photojournalism to explore conceptual photography in his search to reflect contemporary Inuit issues and reality. This is evident in his Awareness Series (2009–16), currently on exhibit at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. This photographic suite consists of 19 haunting images recounting the RCMP’s contact with Inuit. The images magnify the Eskimo Identification Tag, developed for census purposes by the Canadian government beginning in the 1940s. Through this work, Barry sheds light on the living history of colonization, bridging the gap between the disc number (tag) and the people.
With this new, tighter focus on singular aspects of the urban Inuit community, I greatly look forward to the next body of work in which the richness and beauty of Barry’s images will reflect his profound and sensitive insight. – Patricia Feheley
When I first saw the photographic work of Jimmy Manning, I found it awe inspiring and exciting, particularly his early images depicting life on the land and everyday life in and around Kinngait (Cape Dorset). There is a consistency to his work and an attention to detail that shines through, whether it’s a portrait of an artist at work in the studio or an image of caribou antlers strung across the top of the boat. To some these are scenes of everyday life, but to me, as an artist, they represent the creativity and challenge of documenting life—Inuit life—in a thoughtful way. As a photographer, Jimmy shed light on his community in a manner that I hadn’t seen before and one that has pushed me to try to capture my own Urban Inuit experience. His creative influence and experimentation has allowed me to try different approaches, use different perspectives and explore different themes.
His work as both an artist and an administrator with the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative has been an inspiration for me, and watching him build his career as one of the first professional Inuk photographers has taught me there are no real limits. His sense of professionalism and his calm mannerisms are something I strive to emulate. Following in his artistic footsteps gives me passion, new ideas and the sense that I can do it too. – Barry Pottle
Feheley is the Owner and Director of Feheley Fine Arts and current board member of the Inuit Art Foundation. A champion of emerging contemporary Inuit artists, she has written extensively for the Quarterly, including, notably, “Modern Language: The Art of Annie Pootoogook” (19.2, Summer 2004), the first comprehensive feature on the artist.
These profiles appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of the Inuit Art Quarterly.
30 Artists to Know Feature