Palaya Qiatsuk is one of the most important artists from the artistic community of Cape Dorset. He began carving around 1977. He learned to carve from his father, the well-known sculptor and printmaker, Lukta Qiatsuq. Palaya works in soapstone and bone, and carves each piece with attention to detail.
Palaya is passionate about keeping Inuit culture alive. He attempts to keep the traditional stories alive through his work. He believes that if the culture is to survive, the young people must be taught about the past. He hopes that young people who see his carvings will have a greater understanding of the hardships of their ancestors, and their dependence on the land and the wildlife. “He says: “I like to carve transformations. That’s one of my favourite [themes], and shamanism…when I do transformation or shamanism carvings, [I hope] the younger people will see the carving in a book or in a gallery. I want them to know that these traditions have to be carried out. How do I put this? They have to know that our ancestors had a hard time to live, to hunt. Sometimes they were starving. Those carvings are important to me and I want to show these younger people – and others – that this happened before.”
Palaya is often invited to attend exhibition openings, and to give carving demonstrations at various venues. In 2006, he was invited to demonstrate carving at Canada House (London, England), on the occasion of Canada Day. When he’s travelling, Palaya makes a point to see work by other artists of other cultures, in order to put his work into context.