Ashevak Tunnillie

bear Inuit Art Sculpture in Serpentine

Born February 11, 1956 (Kadlusivik, Nunavut) – Died in 2018 (Cape Dorset, Nunavut)

Ashevak Tunnillie is the son of Tayaraq and the master sculptor Qavaroak (Kabubuwa) Tunnillie. He began sculpting in 1982 and that same year moved with his family from Cape Dorset to the outpost of Camp Aqiatulaulaulavik. However, after 1995, when he lost his son, the family began to travel back and forth to Cape Dorset until they settled there permanently in 1997.

Ashevak learned to sculpt by watching his father Qavaroak work. He has a style that embraces, but that is distinct from that of his father. When he started making sculptures, they were small and varied in material. Having lived much of his life in a camp, Ashevak has an intimate knowledge of polar bears. He has seen a lot of them and he loves them. When he does, he tries to preview it, sometimes for days, before he begins his labor. These days, because his large bears are so in demand, he carves them almost exclusively. His work incorporates the fluid sense of movement. Skilled at carving in the round, Ashevak uses positive and negative space to give his sculptures a design openness and a strong presence.

Sculpture is a family affair; Sileema, his wife, helps him with his work and his son Pauloosie follows in his father’s footsteps.

Ashevak’s work was in the 1989 “Masters of the Arctic: An Exhibition of Contemporary Inuit Artworks” and can be found in collections besides, that of the Amway Environmental Foundation.