Padlaya was born in Cape Dorset and began carving around 1977. He learned to carve from his father, the well-known sculptor and printmaker, Lukta Qiatsuq. Padlaya works in soapstone and bone, and carves each sculpture with much attention to detail.
Palaya is passionate about keeping Inuit culture alive and attempts to keep the traditional stories alive through his work. He believes that if the culture is to survive, the young people must be taught about the past. He hopes that young people who see his carvings will have a greater understanding of the hardships of their ancestors, and their dependence on the land and the wildlife.
Palaya is often invited to attend exhibition openings, and to give demonstrations at various venues. In 2006, he was invited to demonstrate at Canada House (London, England), on the occasion of Canada Day. When he does travel, Palaya makes a point to see work by other artists of other cultures, in order to put his work into context.
“I like to carve transformations. That’s one of my favourite [themes], and shamanism…when I do transformation or shamanism carvings, [I hope] the younger people will see the carving in a book or in a gallery. I want them to know that these traditions have to be carried out. How do I put this? They have to know that our ancestors had a hard time to live, to hunt. Sometimes they were starving. Those carvings are important to me and I want to show these younger people – and others – that this happened before.”
-- Palaya Qiatsuq: Encouraging Young Carvers to Perserve", Mattew Fox. Inuit Art Quarterly, vol. 16, no. 1, Spring 2001, pg 26-28.
Palaya has exhibited extensively in Canada, the United States, France, Germany, and Switzerland.