Artworks and Artists
Whaling in the Cumberland Sound: 1930s

Whaling in the Cumberland Sound: 1930s,
Nuvaqirq, Tommy
colour stencil on laid japan paper
32 x 85.5 cm


From the end of the eighteenth century up until the 1930s, merchant ships mainly from Scotland and England sailed to Cumberland Sound (where Nuvaqirq lived) in search of bowheads. Products from these whales were much in demand in Europe. The hunt was carried out from small boats which were tethered in a line behind the ship. After the whale was repeatedly harpooned and pursued to the point of exhaustion, it would be towed to shore to be cut up. The baleen was then removed from the roof of the whale's mouth to be used in making corset stays, umbrellas, and furniture upholstery. The blubber was melted into oil, which was then stored in barrels.

Nuvaqirq illustrates the moment when the whale has been harpooned and attached by cables to the towline of the boats.