Toonoo Sharky

Toonoo was born in the Iqaluit hospital and has lived in Cape Dorset all his life. At the age of nine, his father died and Toonoo was soon eager to learn how to carve as a way to support himself. Although he is a self-taught carver, Toonoo learned a lot about carving by watching his grandfather, Qupapik Ragee. “[My grandfather] never talked about it, I just watched – it is the traditional way.” Toonoo is one of few third generation sculptors to be internationally renowned, and his wok reflects his confidence. His willingness to embrace new challenges and learning experiences has permitted Toonoo to travel south many times.

Toonoo feels his work has continued to improve over the years. He considers himself a “full-time” carver. When asked who are some of his favorite Inuit artists Toonoo replied, “I used to like Kiawak [Ashoona] but now I like my own.” Toonoo’s favorite subjects to carve are birds such as a hawk with a fish or lemming, and animal/humans spirit transformations. He decides what to carve by the shape of the stone, and prefers the light green serpentine quarried nearby at Markham Bay. Toonoo acknowledged that he was starting to work in larger-scale sculpture, and expressed an interest in undertaking a large commission someday.


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