Born about 150 miles north of Taloyoak, Qauqjuaq moved around quite a bit when he was younger, between Taloyoak, Gjoa Haven, and Thom Bay. He moved to Gjoa Haven in 1991; this is where his wife’s family is from.
Qauqjuaq saw Charlie Ugyuk making good money from carving, and decided to take it up himself in 1969. He is self-taught; he remembers his first carving was a stone polar bear. Qauqjuaq gradually switched to whalebone as his preferred medium, because of the heavy demand for whalebone pieces in the early 1970s. He carved mostly people, polar bears, and seals. He has carved a few shamanic pieces, but prefers animals and people. He also prefers to carve fairly small scale pieces. Qauqjuaq now carves mostly small animals, often on request. Qauqjuaq thinks it is easier to carve when he thinks of stories he has heard, even when he is carving straightforward representations of animals. He has a fondness for stories about animals who turned into people.
Qauqjuaq once took a jewellery making course in Iqaluit; that is where he learned to carve ivory. His wife Alice has just finished a jewellery course in Gjoa Haven. Two of Qauqjuaq’s siblings are carvers in Taloyoak: Maudie Rachel Oqittuq and Nick Uquqtuq.
—Interview with the artist, October 1992.
Excerpt courtesy Inuit Art Section, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC), 1997.
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