The joy of new discoveries…

Life is such a wonderful thing full of the unexpected …

A few days ago  a wonderful surprise came through my letterbox…A budding artist friend of mine came back from visiting her sister in Canada and brought me back a beautiful book of postcards of The Group of Seven.

I  must admit  I never came across these artists’ works  even when I lived in Toronto in the early 70’s.  Opening the book and seeing  the colourful landscapes,  my heart jumped for joy and I felt so grateful to her for introducing me to such beautiful art !

I am sure my Twitter and Facebook Canadian artists friends  (you all know who you are …)  are shouting ‘how could you not know about these wonderful painters ?’…yes indeed,  how could I not,  but luckily it is never too late !

So for those of you who didn’t know about them either,  I would like to introduce you to  The Group of Seven ;  I’d like to call them the Magnificent Seven !

Red Maple

Red Maple - A.Y. Jackson

Lawren S.Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, A.Y Jackson, Arthur Lismet, Franklin Carmichael, F.H Varley and Frank Johnston officially formed the group of Seven when they exhibited together for the first time at the Art Gallery of Toronto (later renamed the Art Gallery of Ontario), the year was 1920.

It was a historic exhibition, followed by a succession of at times  controversial shows through the decade and the first retrospective exhibition of the group in 1936. After Johnston left the Group in 1924, the young A.J. Casson was asked to join.

Many of these artists, along with Tom Thomson (who died tragically in 1917) had met as early as 1913 in Toronto.  At first they were a small group of like-minded artists who established a practice of regular outdoor sketching trips. They gathered strength from mutual support to pioneer a new direction for Canadian landscape painting.

Autumn's Garland

'Autumn's Garland' - Tom Thomson

Tom Thomson had  profound effect on this group of artists as he introduced them to Algonquin Park and the ‘Northern’ wilderness.  In 1918, members of the Group organised the first of the now famous ‘boxcar trips’ to the Algoma region of Ontario – a place they returned to often.

“ We are endeavouring to knock out of us all all of the preconceived ideas, empty ourselves of everything except that nature is here in all its greatness.” F.H.Varley

These artists fundamentally believed that art should permeate all aspects of our lives.

How wonderful is that ?  Nature is also my inspiration and I am grateful to my friend for the introduction and I hope you will get to know them and their beautiful and colourful art…I really feel they painted from the heart !


6 Responses to “The joy of new discoveries…”

  1. eileen says:

    oh my is the understament of my life these artist are truly the magnificent seven thank you for sharing them

  2. Elaine Roberts says:

    Thank you for your wonderful enthusiasm, Annick, I’m so glad you like these paintings.
    Here’s some great news for you! (from your budding artist friend mentioned above).
    Now some of the Group of Seven’s paintings are here in London! There is currently an exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery, “Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven” on until 8th January 2012. Their work has not been seen in England since 1925!!
    When I first discovered the Group of Seven about ten years ago I was utterly thrilled as here was the goal I had been striving for without knowing it already existed: a connectedness in paint through colour and light which was a representation or manifestation of a deeper spiritual relationship of the landscape. This is clumsy to try and explain in words so to understand what I mean, just look at their paintings.
    I first saw some of their snow scenes in a Christmas card catalogue and then my sister, Caroline, sent me a couple of calendars and a book of their work. At last this year I was able to visit Canada and made a pilgrimage to the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa on 28th April to see some of them in the flesh. Then, typically, various obstacles tried to prevent me from getting to the gallery: I had to cross the Alexandra Bridge on foot through high winds across the wide Ottawa River. These weren’t any ordinary high winds, they were part of the 2011 Super Tornado Outbreak, one of the worst in US history!! Luckily I didn’t know that at the time and, as there were one or two others braving the bridge on foot, I guessed I’d make it across without being blown into the river. I was very determined.
    I was rewarded by having the Group of Seven galleries all to myself, apart from the occasional guard. It is so worth seeing the originals! Their colours are stunning. Many are surprisingly small painted on wood panels. Others are quite large and completely awe-inspiring. I think the fact that they were painted al fresco – out there on the spot really shows. These artists had a real passion for their landscape and used to go on expeditions to the northern wilds to experience and capture nature in all its beautiful colours.
    So, Annick, I really hope you will be able to come over and see this exhibition. Happy painting!!

    • Annick says:

      Thank you so much Elaine, I am glad you shared your experience of discovering and actually looking at the paintings..I treasure the catalogue you gave me as I discovered these wonderful painters through reading it and being so inspired by the images..
      Keep at it, my budding painter friend…sadly will not be able to come to London to see the exhibition…you can tell me about it !

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