Ashevak Tunnillie

bear Inuit Art Sculpture in Serpentine

Born: February 11, 1956    Male

Ashevak Tunnillie, son of Tayaraq and master carver Qavaroak (Kabubuwa) Tunnillie, really started carving only in 1982. In that year, he moved his family from Cape Dorset to the outpost of camp Aqiatulaulavik, where he had spent the early years of his life. However, after 1995, when he lost his son, the family began to travel back and forth to Cape Dorset until they finally settled there permanently in 1997.

When Ashevak first started making carvings, they were small and varied in subject  matter. However, because his large bears are so much in demand, he is carving them almost exclusively these days. Having lived much of his life in a camp, Ashevak possesses an intimate knowledge of polar bears. He has seen many of them and he likes them. When he makes one, he tries to pre-visualize it before he begins his work.

Ashevak learned to carve by watching his father Qavaroak work, and then he would try to carve his own. He has a style that embraces, but is distinct from, his father’s. His work embodies fluid sense of movement and incorporates the inner nature of the particular stone. Skilled at carving in the round, Ashevak’s use of positive and negative space gives his sculptures an openness of design and a strong presence. Carving is a family affair. Sileema, his wife, helps sand his work, and his son Pauloosie is following in his father’s footstep.

His work was in the 1989 “Masters of the Arctic: An Exhibition of Contemporary Inuit Masterworks” and can be found in collections such as the National Gallery of Canada and the Amway Environmental Foundation Collection.