Canada // Toronto //

Toronto Dominion Gallery of Inuit Art

The Toronto Dominion Gallery of Inuit Art boasts an outstanding collection of over a hundred pieces of Inuit sculpture. Spread over two levels – and beginning in the foyer – the collection is owned by the Toronto Dominion Bank, who commissioned a panel of experts to celebrate Canada’s Centennial in 1965 by collecting the best of postwar Inuit art. All the favourite themes of Inuit sculpture are here, primarily animal and human studies, supplemented by a smattering of metamorphic figures, in which an Inuit adopts the form of an animal, either in full or in part. Other sculptures depict deities, particularly Sedna (or Nuliayuk), the sea goddess. Inuit religious belief was short on theology, but its encyclopedic animism populated the Arctic with spirits and gods, the subject of all manner of Inuit folk tales. Most of the pieces are in soapstone, but there are bone, ivory and caribou-antler pieces too. A free introductory booklet, available from the rack at the start of the gallery, provides the background information.