Inuit Art Blog / Joseph Suqslaq

Artist Spotlight - Joseph Suqslaq from Gjoa Haven

Hailing from the isolated hamlet of Gjoa Haven, Joseph Suqsluq is known to be one of the pioneering forces in Inuit art from this region .

One of the most isolated communities in all of Canada, the style of carving is often interpreted as a "closer to nature" style. The unforgiving limestone used to create these raw-like masterpieces is perfected only by a few prominent artists in this region. Uriash, Puqinak and Joseph Suqsluq are the three who put Gjoa Haven on the map as being the prominent force in Inuit art today.

Suqsluq best known for his polar bears. Inuit art enthusiasts around the globe adore his fastidiously detailed work.

Suqsluq often connects the upper and lower teeth of his bears which intensifies their ferocity. This polar bear uses his sneering lips, bared fangs and transfixing eyes to intimidate his prey.

Joseph has the rare ability to carve movement into his carvings. Gjoa Haven artists honour the natural spirit of their animal subjects and are unique in their depiction of life.

Every collection should have at least one polar bear carving. Inuit art enthusiasts cherish their “special” polar bear.

Joseph Suqlak Gjoa Haven

Joseph Sugslak, 58, carver and carpenter

“In the 70s, the co-op offered a carving workshop, I took a few courses and never stopped since. It’s been my full-time job for 30 years now. I work here every day and it really gets cold in winter so I work inside. I have six children and one of them is really into carving as well.”

Joseph Suqlak Gjoa Haven

“I use limestone and sandstone, even granite but it’s really complicated as it wears tools a lot. Soapstone dust makes me cry and sticks all over me. It dries my eyes a lot.

“I get inspired by what’s around me. I used to be a hunter like everyone around me so I know men. I know animals.”


Joseph is approaching very close to retirement. Some of his last works are still available in our gallery. Click here to see our collection of his beautiful works.

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