In Memoriam –
(1948 – 2017) | Cape Dorset, Nunavut, Canada
Born in Ikirasaq in Canada’s eastern Arctic, Kelly lived most of his life in Cape Dorset. He began carving at the age of 14. He first carved a seal and was pleased to sell it. Kellypalik learned to carve by watching his brother Allashua Atsiaq and by carving on his own. He sometimes would take Allashua’s rejected carvings and work on them. Kelly seriously started carving in his 20s. He first learned the craft by using hand tools to carve. For most of his career, Kelly has chosen to use power tools to carve because the stone is not liable to break as easily. He did continue to use hand tools for some areas of his work throughout his life.
Kelly would often carve animals in herds but the buyers in the community weren’t all that interested in purchasing these kinds of works. This changed his style and he started making animals dancing.
Kelly received the commission for a legacy project for the World Youth Day Celebrations in Toronto in July 2002 for Battery Park. The Inuksuk that Kellypalik work on weighs approximately 50 tonnes and is made from mountain rose granite. The structure stands at 30 feet high with an arm span of 15 feet. It is one of the largest inuksuk’s in North America. In October 2002, the area where the Inukshuk stands was renamed the Toronto Inukshuk Park acknowledging the magnificent addition to Toronto’s waterfront.
Kelly explored various subjects over the years using his vivid imagination and stories from his elders. He explored animal transformations and shamanistic themes with great skill and knowledge. He often carved arctic wildlife such as musk ox, bears, hares, seals and caribou. He is well known for his dancing sculptures that are finely executed with joyful movement, humour and expression.
He has exhibited internationally and his work can be viewed at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Winnipeg Art Gallery and the National Gallery of Canada.
He was a dedicated father and craftsman and he shared his knowledge and skills with his talented son Pitseolak Qimirpik. Kellypalik Qimirpik, internationally acclaimed Inuit artist is remembered by his family and the community of Cape Dorset as well as around the world by his many admirers.