Bobby Nokalak Anavilok

One original hand-carved sculpture by Inuit artist, Bobby Nokalak. One drum dancer carved out of marble and antler.

Born in 1945 (Kugluktuk, Nunavut)

Bobby Nokalak Anavilok was raised on the land, moving between camps by dogsled. Meanwhile, the artistic spark was lit by his parents, who were both respected artists. He recalls learning to draw before he even had paper, using stones as a surface for his scenes. Soon after he began carving with his father, who taught him to follow the shape of the stone to seek the spirit within it.

After many years of working physically strenuous jobs, he began carving professionally in 1991 and now does so full time, quarrying his own local stone and sourcing natural materials to include in his works. It is in this community where this special smooth, creamy stone called Dolomite is mined. Dolomite is Bobby’s favourite stone, flowing with faint layers and an intangible glow that effuses from the animals that he carves with keen realism, as if frozen in time. Wings beginning to unfurl, talons gripping, fur fluttering in the wind – harking back to the lesson of his father, Bobby Anavilok truly captures the spirit in each of his creations.

To achieve the true grace and timid stance of these gorgeous mammals, Bobby has to painstakingly carve out each leg, horn and face to match the quintessential grace of the muskox and caribou. This takes tremendous focus and patience for an artist to do. Muskox and caribous are by far the hardest subject for an artist to carve. This is why they are not frequently seen. A lifetime of hard work and perseverance has focused his artistic talents into sculptures that are fluid in their movement, but full of a raw, visceral energy.