BY IGOR DRAGOSLAVIĆ

Visitors of this website are very likely to notice my affinity for Inuit art and culture.

 

From the earliest days of my childhood in Serbia I was fascinated and spellbound by the Inuit ways. As a child I “carved” bathing sponges into whalebone or walrus tusk-like, Inuit style figurines. Later I tortured my poor dogs, a wolf-like mutt and an Irish Setter, making them reluctantly pull me around on a toboggan, while I would imagine that I was an Inuit hunter traveling on the sea ice. This passion was the partial reason for my immigrating to Canada, and it’s what eventually led to my acquisition of two true Inuit Dogs from Iglulik, Nunavut. I have even made my own Inuit style dogsled, or “qamutiik” in Inuktitut. Finally, I was able to sled in the traditional Inuit way!

 

Building my own qamutiik..Building my own qamutiik..Finished qamutiik.Add the dogs......and off we go!1 - 2  

 

 

The making of the sled was a way to fully immerse myself into the incredible Inuit ingenuity, allowing me to learn more about the impeccable practicality and exquisite aesthetics of their craft. There is even an Inuktitut word for this unique resourcefulness: “qaujimajatuqangit”.

 

The pinnacle of Inuit resourcefulness, ingenuity and utilitarian artisanship is the igluvijaq (igloo), a superb architectural achievement, as well as an aesthetic marvel. I was unable to resist the urge to learn the tricky art of erecting these edifices. Over the years I’ve finally succeeded and have built multiple igluvijait (igloos) of my own, whenever the snow conditions in Southern Ontario have allowed.

 

My first building attempt was a success!Reveling with Avalak in my first igluvijaq.My second igluvijaq.The view from the inside.It is surprisingly warm inside.My third igluvijaq. The key of the structure's strength is in the last pieces of the roof.The fourth one was bigger. The bigger they are, the harder they are to build.With more practice I was getting better in tighter fitting the pieces together.7 - 8  

 

In order to honor the qaujimajatuqangit source of inspiration, I’ve chosen the traditional Inuit dog toggle for the symbol on my Lead Dog Visual Arts logo. The dog toggle, or “sannisaq” or “sanniruaq” in Inuktitut (depending on the dialect), is a fine example of Inuit resourcefulness. It is made from the walrus tusk, a locally available organic material. It can be carved with a knife, but it’s still too hard for dogs to chew and destroy. It’s light, but tough enough to withstand incredible weight pulling forces. It doesn’t freeze, break or malfunction like the commercially made metal dog clips. It doesn’t come undone on its own, yet it is easy to hook/unhook even with thick mitts.

 

 

Likewise, the Inuit Dog (the official animal of Nunavut) is a tough fearless animal, capable of pulling incredible loads over great distances, with a meager diet and no watering. These dogs are perfectly adapted to their harsh Arctic environment and work demands. They have maintained their ancient form, identical to their glorious ancestors that brought the Inuit to North America and later conquered North and South Poles.

 

The Lead Dog name reflects my desire to stand out with creating art that strives to distract or “pull away” from the sea of uniformity and conformity to materialistic values. My non-commercial art is a reflection of an incredibly strong bond with the land and nature, and a manifestation of my frustration and conflict with the modern world. I find relief in creating images that give me (and hopefully others) escape to alternative realms. The traditional Inuit dog toggle is my symbolic tool for this job.

 

 

 

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© 2014 Igor Dragoslavic. All rights reserved.