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Information sources

Compiling and editing the contents of the Workbooks required three types of research: retrieval of existing information, firsthand examination and interviews, and finally, consultation by phone, letter, fax and e-mail.

The retrieval process involved abstracting information from every print-related catalogue, brochure, leaflet and published print resource including annual collection catalogues, special collection/commission offerings, major auction catalogues and principal reference books. This basic information was then put into an usable and retrievable form, arranged by community and artist.

The next step was to cross check the information, resolve inconsistencies and isolate blocks of missing data (name changes over a period of almost 50 years for some 500 artists and printers proved quite a challenge). Also most of the early collection catalogues were inconsistent in the information they offered; the fantastic success of Inuit prints in the world market was not expected and thus the need for more thorough documentation was not anticipated. This meant that information, had to be retrieved from the source, i.e. the prints themselves. Since the first experiments in Cape Dorset in 1957, there have been approximately 8,000 images produced, most but not restricted to, by the major print-producing communities of Arctic Québec (including Povungnituk/Puvirnituq), Cape Dorset, Clyde River, Holman and Pangnirtung. Almost every print image was examined at least once to determine missing data and to double check existing documentation. This research took place at almost every Canadian Museum with a major Inuit collection, Southern marketing arms, Northern co-operatives, dealer and individual collections in Canada and the U.S. and major Canadian and U.S. auctions.

Today catalogue documentation is quite thorough, but Cape Dorset, for example, did not publish printer attributions until 1971, so the printer chops had to be examined print by print. Baker and Pangnirtung credited the printers from the beginning, but there was quite a bit of confusion and misattribution because of the use of married names in English (maiden names in syllabics) or transposition of the usual artist/printer order. Holman attists do not sign in syllabics nor was their any acknowledgment of printers on the prints or in the catalogues until recently. Attributions were obtained from.the printers involved in Holman by actually showing them the images in the catalogues for identification. As of 1974, Arctic Québec printers were listed in the catalogues, but most of the prints do not carry any easily identifiable attribution. Information is usually in Inuktitut syllabics although sometimes a recognizable name is incised in the print stone. Most artists carved their own stones, but the printing was usually done by others. Some printer attributions were established on trips to Povungnituk (Puvirnituq) and Inoucdjouac (Inukjuak) but much additional information was obtained from Kanayuk Tukalak in Povungnituk, via communication with Mary Craig at La Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec.

 
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