by Betty Bardswich
SPRING BAY – Surrounded by trees and flowers and overlooking Lake Kagawong is a special treasure of the Island, named Perivale Gallery. For 38 years, this destination for art lovers has featured original works by artists and artisans as well as sculptors. Every visit is an enchantment as the works are ever-changing and visitors are delighted to talk art with the gallery owner, artist, actor and photographer, Shannon McMullan.
Art workshops at all levels are also ongoing every year and this marks the fifth year of the very popular show of art ‘In the Spirit of Tom Thompson and the Group of Seven.’ This exhibition features works by the gallery artists, artisans and guest artists and Ms. McMullan discussed the event with The Expositor.
“In 2015,” she said, “Perivale Gallery initiated and developed a tourism offering with the target of increasing tourism traffic to the gallery and thus to Manitoulin Island and Northern Ontario. The ‘In the Spirit of Tom Thompson and the Group of Seven’ show was conceived as a collaborative marketing initiative intending to showcase the Island as a whole and promote the other attractions, accommodations and activities that make Manitoulin Island an ideal travel destination. This has become an annual celebration of Canada’s rugged landscape with an event featuring the visual arts with a common focus during the height of the tourist season traffic on Manitoulin Island: the last week of July and the first week of August.”
“A challenge was then issued to Perivale Gallery’s 50 plus artists and artisans to produce one work to be featured in the show that was inspired in some way by Tom Thompson and the Group of Seven. As well, extending invitations to guest artists from other regions of Ontario to participate has resulted in the annual inclusion of such famous Canadian artists as Charles Pachter, CA Henry, Cyril Leeper and Ivan Wheale. The artists travel to Manitoulin to deliver the works. This, in turn, has the fans of those guest artists travelling to Manitoulin to view the show.”
Everyone who visits the gallery to see these works are invited to vote for the “People’s Choice” award. Last year, 1,200 ballots were submitted and the results posted on Perivale Gallery’s website and Facebook page.
The gallery also offers workshops every year and every year they are filled and extended. “The Tom Thompson and the Group of Seven show and the ongoing workshops, including nine this year, have brought a significant and measurable increase in tourist traffic to Perivale Gallery,” Ms. McMullan said, “and hence to Manitoulin Island and the region, especially over the weeks of the show. These people stay in hotels, B and Bs, camping parks, eat in restaurants, buy groceries, gas, and tour to the many other attractions on the Island, thus having a significant impact on tourist spending beyond the venue itself. Perivale Gallery, itself, experienced a growth in traffic each year of the show, and this year showed a 30 percent increase.”
The Group of Seven showcase saw Mark Hope of Wasaga Beach as the art instructor. Mr. Hope has a passion for painting Northern Ontario scenes and describes himself as an Impressionist oil painter after the 19th-century Impressionists and the Group of Seven and Tom Thompson. He has a fascination with observing nature and said, “I explore light, form and colours that nature provides.”
The work done by Ms. McMullan has led to many accolades for the gallery, including the Trip Advisor Award of Excellence from 2014-2019 and the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame award in 2018 and 2019. The gallery has also been made mention of in Frommer’s Best of Canada travel book as a “must-see.” The travel book Wild Ontario devotes a chapter to the gallery and Arabella, Canada’s foremost art magazine regularly features 15-16 articles about Perivale’s outstanding artists.
For more information and to see the results of the People’s Choice award, go to PerivaleGallery.com, visit them on Facebook or email Ms. McMullan at info@PerivaleGallery.com.