From my highschool days, the group of seven have been in a corner of my heart. For a time, in the seventies it wasn’t a popular choice for an art student, but all things change or we change and it becomes easier to love what you love. At the McMichael arts center I walked through three galleries of permanent collections of the group of sevens iconic work. Emily Carr’s forests hung along side on a visiting tour. In the upper floors the Professional Native Indian Artists had a large impressive visiting gallery, as well works of Inuit art, Haida masks, carvings eight galleries of Canadian art history I am going to carry with me a long long time.
Last night I flipped through some of my collected books on the group of seven and revisited some of the paintings I stood before a week ago. There is such a difference in being able to view first hand.
Reading the biographies of the various members of the founding 7, I was struck by the differences in the worlds we share as well the similarities. Each had moments of waning confidence, doubt, and each were driven to continue and to build. The photographs of painting in the wild places in formal attire, white shirts and dress pants always make me smile. There were letters and notes as well as personal items on display.
Harris’ paint box and tools shown above. The tools held by the hands of the artist always touch a chord for me. I paint with some of my aunts brushes, bits and pieces offered by other painters I admire and have managed to add to my table always make me feel connected to a broader community. Standing by Thomson’s shack I think that is the predominant feeling. In many ways the art community remains dominated by men, not everything has changed but still I felt as though if time were fluid I could knock on the door and find welcome. We are connected by the things we love. I am richer for my day at McMichael, I brought nothing away but memories, my pockets are full.