I think his carvings are beautiful because that was his way of supporting the family, and I am thankful to him because he carved for us.”
(Lucy POV Elijassiapik, daughter of Abraham POV, in an interview with Inuit Art Foundation staff in Inukjuak in 2009)
Born in 1927, in a small camp south of Puvirnituq.
Abraham Talirunili first started carving in 1950, shortly after James Houston arrived in Puvirnituq. He was given the name Pov, the abbreviated form of his home community, in order to distinguish him from Abraham Nastapoka, who was already a well-known carver at the time.
Pov came from an extended family of prolific carvers: he was the son of Joe Talirunili, the brother of Sarah Joe Qinnauajuaq, and the nephew of Davidialuk Ammittu.
While Abraham was mainly a sculptor, he also made prints, one of which — Building an Igloo —was reproduced on a 17-cent Canadian stamp in 1979.
Abraham’s wife, Alicie, collaborated closely with him on much of his work. Indeed, she takes some of the credit for his creative output. In an interview with curator Darlene Wight, Alicie said: “If Abraham was a good carver, it’s because of me. I was the one who put on the finishing touches and polished them. After he had done the filing, I would put them in water and shine them, and then polish them. I used fine sand and mud to polish the stone. . . . I couldn’t wait for Abraham to finish his carvings so I could sand and polish them” (Wight 2006:71).
In Guardians of Memory: Sculpture Women of Nunavik, art historian Celine Saucier described Abraham’s carvings as “compact,” and his sculptures as being marked by “flowing lines and smooth volumes” (Saucier 1998:150). She also noted that his figures, most often women, are grimacing, a style that some people objected to. Moreover, “the incised features, the contours of their mouths, eyes, and noses are his signature and his expression of reality as he perceived it. The sincerity and constancy of his approach are demonstrated by the fact that he never abandoned his personal style of sculpting.”
According to Darlene Wight, Abraham’s “later work is characterized by fully carved eyes and downturned mouths; hoods drape naturalistically, rather than forming a stylized circle as in earlier work” (Wight 2006:71)
1998 Guardians of Memory: Sculpture Women of Nunavik. Quebec: L’instant même.
2006 Early Masters: Inuit Sculpture 1949–1955. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery.