On Monday July 9, 2018, in conjunction with Nunavut Day celebrations, Speaker of the House of Commons, the Honourable Geoff Regan, announced that Iglulik (Igloolik)-based sculptor Bart Hanna Kappianaq has been selected to install a new work in Centre Block, the main building of the Canadian parliament complex on Parliament Hill in Ottawa.
Alongside Public Services and Procurement Canada, the House of Commons launched a program in 2017 to commission a new sculpture by a Nunavut artist. Nine short-listed artists were invited to submit maquettes from where a jury comprised of the Curator of the House of Commons Johanna Mizgala, invited experts and the Dominion Sculptor Phil White selected Hanna’s proposal to create a high relief, sculptural tympanum measuring approximately 65 x 84 cm.
“We are delighted to include a new piece of sculpture in Centre Block that will showcase the artistic excellence of Nunavut,” explained the hon. Geoff Regan.
Expected to be completed in 2019 to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the creation of Nunavut as a territory, the work will be exhibited in Parliament’s West Block before its final installation in the House of Commons Foyer after the restoration of Centre Block is complete. The work will mark the culmination of the House of Commons legacy projects and join a host of other prominent contemporary sculptures commissioned for the House of Commons Foyer.
Hailing from Nunavut, Hanna’s highly detailed works address Arctic life, traditions and legends by using sculpture as a medium to explore both cultural heritage and trauma. “I’m not a writer,” Hanna told IAQ in 2017 “I have to put it in the stone.” Working with various media ranging from white marble, soapstone, serpentinite, baleen and walrus bone to alabaster and more, Hanna began carving in the early 1960s and has since studied in Canada as well as the United States. His work has been exhibited across Canada, the United States and France and is included in the collections of the Prince of Whales Northern Heritage Centre in Yellowknife, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, Government of Nunavut and the Inuit Art Centre in Winnipeg, among others.