‘In the Spirit of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven’ opens this weekend at Perivale Gallery

PERIVALE—This weekend marks the launch of yet another fantastic arts event on Manitoulin, this time in idyllic Perivale on the shores of Kagawong Lake at the Perivale Gallery with its second annual ‘In the Spirit of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven’ show.

Perivale Gallery owner/curator Shannon McMullan explained that last year, the gallery challenged each of its over 50 artists and artisans to produce one piece of work inspired by the Group of Seven for a show entitled ‘In the Spirit of the Group of Seven.’

“This challenge was readily embraced by the gallery’s many artists, including a number of invited guest artists and the resulting exhibition proved to be a great success, not only for the gallery, but for tourism to Manitoulin Island in general,” Ms. McMullan said. “We found that many of our visitors had travelled to Manitoulin Island for the first time precisely to see the show.” 

Given the resounding success of the 2015 exhibition, she added, it was decided that this would become an annual event, but would also embrace the inspiration of the iconic artist Tom Thomson. Hence ‘In the Spirit of Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven’ has become the name of the show which will be held annually during the last week of July and the first week of August at Perivale Gallery.

In 2016, Ms. McMullan was appointed a member of Northeastern Ontario Tourism’s Group of Seven Product Marketing Team. Provincially, the Group of Seven is now seen as a cultural asset to market as a tourism experience. The team will explore and develop initiatives with that Group of Seven theme.

“In Canada in the early 20th century, a colonial mindset determined that, in general, European art, particularly Dutch art, was superior,” the curator explained. “It was almost impossible for Canadians to find artistic reflections of their own natural environment. A Dutch pastoral scene would be much more likely to figure prominently in a Canadian art collection of substance than works reflecting our unique and distinctly beautiful rugged Canadian landscape. Canadian artists had previously been strongly influenced by their European counterparts and had limited themselves to those styles. First, Tom Thomson broke free of those colonial constraints, later followed by the Group of Seven and they developed a distinct painting style to express a nationalistic feeling. Their artistic works, inspired through direct contact with nature, have come to symbolize what is the distinctly Canadian identity that we now celebrate today.”

The opening reception will be this Saturday, July 23 at 2 pm at the gallery.

And on Saturday, August 6, from 4 to 5 pm, Perivale Gallery will be hosting, as part of the show, a presentation by Jim and Sue Waddington, authors of ‘In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven.’

The Waddingtons have been on a quest to locate the places that inspired the Group of Seven painters and Tom Thomson. The couple particularly likes to search for sites that can only be reached by canoe and on foot. The talk will compare photographs of some of the 600 painting sites they have found with the corresponding artwork. The Waddingtons will also discuss how they find the painting sites and what they have learned about the painters. Their book is available at Print Shop Books at The Expositor Office and will be available following their presentation at the Perivale Gallery.

The Perivale Gallery is also offering a summer full of workshops starting this weekend with ‘Take It Outside!’ with Cathy Boyd from July 22 to 24. “Painting outdoors can be daunting, but this workshop will warm you up and prepare you for plein air painting.”

From July 29 to July 31, Perivale Gallery will play host to ‘Paint Like Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven’ with artist Jennifer Lawton. “Taking cues from the unique perspective of these iconic Canadian painters, we will aim to complete a painting a day either in oil or acrylic paints on stretched canvas or canvas board.”

The workshop ‘Photographer for the Extreme Enthusiast’ led by Manitowaning’s own Peter Baumgarten is already sold out from August 12 to 14.

On August 19, 20 and 21, Barry Bowerman is offering ‘Paint the Light Fantastic!’ at the gallery. “Come out for three days of painting and embrace the creative spirit.”

‘Reality and Beyond: Finding your Imagination’ will take place at Perivale Gallery from September 9 to 11 with Ruth Reid. “Explore your creative side. You’ve taken photographs all summer-now paint what you love, but with a creative flair.”

A great summer of art will wrap up at Perivale with the final workshop in the series ‘Canadian, Eh?’ led by Cathy Boyd. “Let’s celebrate the Canadian artist! We will focus on selected Canadian artists and participants will be encouraged to paint, using oils or acrylics, in the style of iconic artists that have made a name for themselves.”

All of the workshops will be held at the Spring Bay Community Centre from 9:30 am to 3:30 pm at $185 per workshop. All levels are welcome. Register soon as spots are going fast. You can phone Ms. McMullan at 705-377-4874 or 705-377-4847 or email her at perivalegallery@gmail.com.