UELEN

Uelen is a small native coastal village in Chukotka, on the Siberian side of the Bering Strait. The Chukchi and Inuit people who live in the area have a long tradition of ivory and bone carving that goes back several centuries. A carving workshop was established there in 1931 and since then the reputation of Uelen’s artists has grown and their work can now be found in museums and private collections around the world. They are perhaps most famous for their detailed engraving on walrus ivory which often depicts their legends as well as scenes of traditional activities like hunting and reindeer herding.

With the increasing cost of ivory in recent years and the problems associated with exporting it, local artists have had difficulty in marketing their work abroad.

In an attempt to try and solve this problem a printmaking workshop was held in Uelen in 2004 by Paul Machnik, a Canadian Master Printmaker. The idea behind the workshop was to introduce an additional medium to the artists which would enable their work to reach a much wider audience so that hopefully they will be able to develop a successful print making program like the Inuit community of Cape Dorset has done in the North of Canada.

 

 

 

Twelve of Uelen’s artists aged between 17 and 60 years took part in the workshop. The result of which was a unique series of etchings which can be viewed on this web site.

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Information about the Artists

Since their release in 2005, the prints produced in the Uelen print workshop have received high acclaim and attracted interest from around the World. A complete set was purchased by the Anchorage Museum of History & Art in Alaska and is now on permanent display there. They have also been exhibited at the The State Museum of Oriental Art in Moscow, The Montreux Art Gallery in Switzerland as well as other prestigious venues including the Cerny Inuit Art Collection in Bern, Switzerland, where the prints are also on permanent display. An entire set has also been acquired by an art gallery in Holland and numerous prints have been purchased by individual collectors from the USA, Switzerland, Germany and Holland.

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The art school at Uelen receives considerable support from the Uelen Carving Workshop which provides the students with a classroom, materials for painting/ drawing, as well as ivory for engraving

Liduya Teutina, a famous artist, teaches children to draw and engrave and shares her rich experience with them.

Due to the remoteness of Uelen and the very expensive costs of transportation,  the school has a constant struggle to provide the necessary drawing materials. On each of his trips to the central territories of Russia, Valery Nypevgi brings back paper, paints, brushes and colored pencils for kids. 

Valery Nypevgi says – "I often look at the kids who are coming here. They are not yet burdened by traditional art and don’t learn to engrave, they just follow their perception. They look at carving or engraving and interpret it in their own way. The results are naive and yet sometimes very interesting indeed. They paint, carve, and sculpt a great deal”.


 


For more information contact: info@uelenart.com

The Uelen print workshop was funded by the Alaska-Chukotka Development Project (University of Alaska) and the Canadian International Development Agency in Moscow. Help has also come from the Inuit community of Cape Dorset in Nunavut.