A castle inukshuk
Inuit artists build stone monuments in Budapest

Kerry McClusky
Northern News Services

IQALUIT (Oct 04/99) - What Count Ferenc Nadasdy wants, Count Ferenc Nadasdy gets -- even when it involves flying two talented Inuit artists to Budapest to build an inukshuk to pay tribute to his family's 800-year-old castle.

While it might sound like a mere flight of fancy, the ecologically-minded patron of the arts felt such a deep connection to the stone icon after four decades of life in Canada that he was driven to have an inukshuk built to stand sentinel over what's become known as the Nadasdy Foundation.

Housed in the castle itself, the foundation is an international non-profit academy that promotes artistic creativity and environmental responsibility. Regular arts and ecology symposiums are held and artists from around the world are encouraged to attend and study.

So when Nadasdy beckoned for their help, Matt Nuqingaq and Pootoogook Qiatsuk were more than happy to comply.

Both well-known jewellers and sculptors residing in Iqaluit, the pair flew to Nadasdy's castle last month to begin work on the project.

As well as building the two-and-a-half-metre-tall inukshuk for Nadasdy, and a second one at the request of the Canadian Embassy, Nuqingaq and Qiatsuk toured the local universities, gave presentations and slideshows, and spoke about their artwork and Inuit culture.

"Everybody really enjoyed that and they liked the kind of work we do," said Qiatsuk, adding that hints of Budapest might show up in his own future work.

Nuqingaq, who drumdanced at the Sound Symposium that was held at the academy during their stay, echoed Qiatsuk and said that their artwork and inukshuk building was very much appreciated by the other artists.

"We were building the inukshuk at the castle while people were moving in grand pianos and different instruments for the sound symposium and there was quite a bit of interest. There were quite a few people watching us," said Nuqingaq.

While they mined most of the stone for the icon themselves in a nearby Hungarian quarry, they went the extra mile for the Count and gave the inukshuk that special touch by placing a piece of stone from Nunavut in the centre of the inukshuk.

Their effort meant quite a lot to Nadasdy. Nuqingaq and Qiatsuk said that not only is he now planning a trip to Nunavut, but their work ended a long-time wish of his.

"It was his dream."