Sales of Inuit carvings, prints and other artwork from Nunavut are rebounding from the worldwide economic downturn of a couple years ago, according to the new chairman of the territory’s central arts group.
Carver Jerry Ell, who was elected chair of the Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association last week, said Inuit art sales are starting to pick up following a slump caused by the recession.
Ell said that rebound is due in part to the attention Inuit art received at this year’s Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Vancouver.
For starters, the Inukshuk was an official symbol of the Vancouver Olympics, which led to a large demand for handmade Inukshuk carvings to be sold as official Olympics merchandise.
In addition to the Inukshuks, Ell said athletes and visitors to Vancouver were exposed to a variety of northern cultural displays and artistic performances.
“It was a great boost for our culture and for Inuit art in general,” Ell told CBC News in an interview.
“People who would not otherwise have known about Inuit art are probably making inquiries now, and that will also help increase the total overall sales volume.”
At least 7,000 Nunavut-made, Olympics-branded Inukshuks were commissioned for the games. Retail prices currently range from $127.50 for a 10-centimetre Inukshuk to $1,880 for a 39-centimetre carving, according to the official Vancouver Olympics store website.
Ell said while art sales may be up generally, Nunavut artists have told him they are hampered by rising production costs and shortages of materials such as soapstone.