The Canadian Art Database

Holman, Northwest Territories

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Just over 450 people live in this community located on the west side of Victoria Island, 925 kilometres north of Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. The community of Holman was established in 1939 when a Hudson’s Bay Post and a Roman Catholic mission were erected. The community outgrew its original site on King’s Bay and moved in 1966 to its present location on the Queen’s Bay coast. The Inuit in Holman refer to themselves as Ulukhaktokmiut after Ulukhaktok the large bluff that overlooks the community. The translation, from the Western Arctic dialect of Inuinnaqtun used in Holman in addition to English today, means 'the place where ulu parts are found'. [The ulu, a crescent-shaped 'woman’s
knife', and other tools were traditionally fashioned from indigenous copper and stone found in the hilly areas surrounding the community].

Sculpture in whalebone, ivory, musk ox horn and occasionally stone has been produced in Holman since the early 1960s. The community is best known however for its print shop. Artists began to experiment with graphite drawing in 1960, later introducing felt-tip pen when it became available in the 1970s, and began to experiment with stonecut prints shortly thereafter. Father Henri Tardy, who lived in Holman from 1949 until the early 1980s, was inspired by the success of visual art related endeavors in other Arctic communities and he and a group of Holman artists formed The Holman Eskimo Co-operative in 1961.

The only printmaking program in the Western Arctic, the first annual Holman print collection was released in 1965 and continues today. Stencil and lithography were introduced in 1976 as the stonecut process became decreasingly popular. Since 1986 the primary print media has been stencil and lithography and most recently printmakers have been experimenting with acid-free etching.

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