Unearthing An Ancient Past

Image credit: Abraham Anghik Ruben, detail from Memories: An Ancient Past, 2010, Whalebone and Brazilian soapstone, 176.0 x 207.0 x 62.0 cm. Image courtesy of Kipling Gallery.

As told to the Art Gallery of Mississauga by Abraham Anghik Ruben:

My nephew, John “Max” Kudluk, informed me that he had found a massive whale skull 30 miles up the coast due north of Paulatuk. He stumbled upon this enormous whalebone when he and his companion were shore-bound due to heavy eastern wind storms, common at that time of the year.

The skull had been pushed up onto a high gravel bar, most likely from ice ridges that developed along the coastline due to tides and currents. I examined the photographs of the skeletal remains and I believe this bowhead whaleskull was from a whale that had died of natural causes and had been beached at this site. Over time and countless seasons, the natural climatic elements impacted dramatically on the skeletal remains. All that was left of the once massive whale was this skull that was pushed up to a high embankment on the beach.

It became clear to me from the photos that a sculpture telling the legends, life and beliefs of the Inuvaluit people would be the best use of this material.

– From Memories: An Ancient Past
an essay by Abraham Anghik Ruben

Abraham completed the sculpture Memories: An Ancient Past (detail from sculpture pictured above) in September 2010. It will be exhibited for the first time in the Art Gallery of Mississauga’s exhibition Shaman’s Dreams, from Nov 4 – Dec 23.

You are all invited to the Opening Reception on Thurs, Nov 4, 6 pm. Abraham will give a talk at 8 pm. A free shuttle bus to the Art Gallery of Mississauga leaves the Gladstone Hotel (1214 Queen St W, Toronto, ON) at 7 pm, and will return at 9 pm.

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