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The Great Bear
12 x 36

Inuit legend describes "Nanuq", The Great Bear, as being human-like, wise and powerful. So strong are these beliefs, that the indigenous people of the North believe the spirit of polar bears and humans are interchangeable.

Today, 60% of the world's polar bear population lies in Canadian territory. Hunting of this species is currently only allowed by the Inuit and is carefully regulated. Hunters perform many rituals during and after the process. So strong is the desire to pay respect to the soul of the animal, the hunter cannot eat of the meat for 5 days. The skin is carefully hung by proper tradition in a place of honour in the home and the people offer tokens of respect to the soul of the animal which has provided for them. Historically, the indigenous people of the arctic have watched and revered the ways of these animals. They learned how to hunt seals by observing bears and respected the way they carefully raised and attended to their young.

To pay tribute to this iconic Canadian species I have depicted an individual peacefully at rest, the silent and still arctic waters beyond, and the northern night sky stretching above. Shown within the sky is the largest of the northern constellations "Ursa major" - also known as The Great Bear. This constellation is one of the oldest known in history, going back to references from ancient times. Within it lie the 7 major stars that form "the big dipper" one of the most recognizable of star formations. Following a line from the big dipper, navigators were able to locate "Polaris" or the north star, here depicted as the brightest star in the piece. Other constellations visible within the artwork are Sagittarius, Cygnus, Cassiopeia, Perseus and Ursa minor as well as the star "Vega" and the planet Jupiter.