What would the Museum's second floor Kayak gallery be without a collection of Inuit carvings on display? That is exactly what we were wondering when the much-loved Hahn-Moss Collection moved home last month. The display case in question is often the first stop for many school groups that come to the Museum to take part in our ever-popular Soapstone Carving program. Students walk around that case, and using only their faculty of sight to explore the carvings, they determine the qualities of the stone and the context of the carvings. These carvings also carry the responsibility of inspiring these students when it comes time to carve their own piece of soapstone!
Bert and Lyn Horwood of Kingston Ontario are two people that understand the importance of these sculptures and the role that they can play in educating our youth. Bert and Lyn are long time fanciers of soapstone art that they have collected both in the north and at galleries around Canada. As a canoeist, Bert had paddled some rivers in Nunavut and the NWT, which have taken him into the realms of Inuit carvers in a variety of northern communities. But they have also frequented galleries in Ottawa, Toronto, Halifax and Vancouver. The result is a lovely family collection of soapstone from which these ten pieces were selected for display.
As a long-time, now retired, professor of education at Queen's University (first in Science and then in Outdoor & Experiential Education) Bert's interest was piqued when he heard that the pieces in the soapstone display case were used as part of school programming in the Kayak Gallery. To make the display as informative and interesting as possible Bert and Lyn looked through their collection for pieces they thought were representative in terms of geographic diversity, as well as in the types of stone and the characters being depicted. They were also conscious of selecting works of varying complexity, knowing that if these are to be a guide for novice soapstone carvers then some simpler or more naive pieces might be more inspiring than more elaborate or complex pieces.
It is integral to the quality of our programs at the Museum to have these unique and valuable Inuit carvings on display. They help to tell the stories of the northern Canadian landscape, the people and animals, and the rich culture and art that comes from this area. Thank you Bert and Lyn Horwood!!
Here is a glimpse of what's now on display.