Peter Parr was native to Cape Dorset, NU and was here where he learnt to carve. This endeavor was both responsible for the distinction of his becoming a world famous artist. as well as the assertion of his eventual demise involving a tragic boating accident, leading to his death in 2012.
Like many young artists in Kingait, Parr began carving when he was a teenager. He started off with simple inukshuks, which quickly evolved into more sophisticated pieces such as dancing walruses and bears. It was his affiliation with these two creatures which earned him accolades and solitude in the chronicles of Inuit art.
His keen artistic background mostly emanates from his father - world famous Nuna Parr, and grandfather, the late Parr Parr; a famous graphic artists in Cape Dorset.
The akin works between him and his father is analogous. You can see the palpable similarities and styles in their work. It is clear that Peter was under the apprenticeship of his father. Peter Parr's popularity has risen in recent years and was believed to eventually follow in his father's footsteps and become one of the world's best Inuit artists.
His later works and ensembles are possibly unique in Parr's oevre in that it strays from his more medium sized format of dancing bears. Parr is just as famous for his depiction of dancing bear as is the likes of other greats like Nuna Parr and Joe Kavik. He has created an impressive body of sculptures depicting walruses and other animals as well, but it is his affinity with the dancing bear that has captured the imagination of collectors.
Well respected as an artist, his works are held in several public collections including the National Gallery of Canada and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. His bears reveal the artist's keen admiration and understanding of the animal's form and movements.
Parr has an uncanny ability to render both the massiveness and the quiet grace of the bear with surprising spirituality and form. The radical truncation of the bear's body creates visual ambiguity.
His stylish dancing bears and walruses project a whimsical like balance between spirit and mammal that captivates a fluid motion like none other. The overall composition of his works are harmonious in nature with much joy and happiness etched into the facial features. This is consistent with his father's teachings.
Several years ago, Peter Parr, 42, was pronounced dead at the health centre after spending several hours in the water clinging to a piece of ice. Parr, along with two others, were returning from the stone quarry in darkness and fog in the early morning on Aug. 26 when their boat capsized after hitting a piece of ice, stated police.
According to the RCMP, all three men spent several hours in the water clinging to a piece of ice. A boat passing by came across the stranded men and brought them to their boat but they ran out of gas before reaching land and they paddled a short distance to shore.
One man ran about two kilometres to the hamlet and called Cape Dorset RCMP around 9:30 a.m., stated police. When police arrived at the beach north of the hamlet, they found some of the men walking. One of the three men pulled from the water was found in the rescue boat in critical condition before being rushed to the health centre, where he was pronounced dead. You can read the full story on CBC here.
If you would like to own one of Parr's last remaining pieces, click here for a collection of his works we recently acquired. These are the last remaining bears by the legend - Peter Parr.
1997 Singing & Dancing & Playing, Feheley Fine Arts, Toronto, ON
1997 Inuit and the Sea, Canuit, Canadian Eskimo Art, Eindhoven, Netherlands
1997 Stone and Bone, The Inuit Master Carvers of the Canadian Arctic, The Northwest Company, The Sun Valley Center for Arts & Humanities, Ketchum, ID
1996 - 97 Beelden uit Arctica, Canuit, Canadian Eskimo Art, Venray, Netherlands
1995 The Next Generation, Orca Aart Gallery, Chicago, IL
1993 Sculpture and Graphics from Cape Dorset, Art Space Gallery, Philadelphia, PA
1993 Inuit Sculpture, Gallery Marie-Louise Wirth, Zurich, Switzerland