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Inuit art discoveries exhibited in Fribourg

Walrus sculpture (1997) from stone and caribou antler by Leevee Temela (picture: Cerny Collection) swissinfo.ch

An exhibition of one of the world's leading private collections of Inuit/Eskimo art has opened in Fribourg.

The exhibits – including stone, walrus tusk and antler sculptures from the Arctic region – belong to a Swiss-Canadian couple, Martha and Peter Cerny, who have their own gallery in Bern and have been collecting Inuit art for several years.

They spend much of their time travelling around northern Canada and Siberia, meeting artists among their indigenous populations and bringing back items to Europe, where – unlike in North America – Inuit art is relatively unknown.

It is also a comparatively recent form of artistic expression, the oldest objects dating back somThe exhibits – including stone, walrus tusk and antler sculptures from the Arctic region – belong to a Swiss-Canadian couple, Martha and Peter Cerny, who have their own gallery in Bern and have been collecting Inuit art for several years.

They spend much of their time travelling around northern Canada and Siberia, meeting artists among their indigenous populations and bringing back items to Europe, where – unlike in North America – Inuit art is relatively unknown.

It is also a comparatively recent form of artistic expression, the oldest objects dating back some 40 years.

“Art is an important source of revenue for the Inuits,” says Peter Cerny. “I would estimate that it accounts for about 30 per cent of their income. In fact the promotion of Inuit/Eskimo art is part of sustainable development in the Arctic region.”

Apart from sculptures, the Cerny Collection also includes walrus tusk etchings from Siberia, Canadian graphics, prints, carvings and jewellery.

The exhibition is in two Fribourg locations, the Cantonal Bank and the main building of Entreprises Electriques Fribourgeoises.

Parallel to it there will also be a number of cultural events in Fribourg linked to the exhibition. These include conferences on traditional legends and songs, and the cuisine of the Inuit people.

by Richard Dawson

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