Breath. Heart. Spirit. is the theme of the Ontario Society of Artists 2022 anniversary year as we celebrate 150 years of artistic practice.
In this members’ exhibition, Conversations, artists were invited to research the rich legacy of our members from 1872 onwards. They were asked to dialogue with artists of the past or contemporary members whose works spark resonance or difference in relation to their own practice. Artists were challenged to interrogate, transform, reformulate, and relate to works by other OSA artists.
Conversations require breath, heart, and spirit. The heart listens, the spirit learns, and breath supports life. Ideas pass from artist to artist, permeating culture and vice versa. We share and learn.
Connections abound through time between our current artist members and the rich legacy of the past. Some members are second generation OSA, while others are students of past notable artists and teachers. Family connections are interwoven, with Percy James Robinson discovered as a great-uncle of Sue Ennis. Cheryl Bailey’s research investigated Thomas Mower Martin, who gave her grandfather a painting as a wedding present in 1910.
In Sue Gamble’s Unmarked, we see Mount Paul (also rendered by A.Y. Jackson) with a flight of 215 orange butterflies to symbolize the unmarked graves of Indigenous children.
Dominique Prevost was attracted by the textures of Helen Frances Gregor’s weaving, her colour shifts, horizon lines, and the way she draped and folded her material. Dominique chose to work in three dimensions in Japanese paper, her signature material.
The Canary Restaurant, is a revisiting of Frederick Hagan’s subject matter from 1938 by his student, Kim Atkins. The city has changed and the diner still exists in an entirely different urban context.
Banff, Tom Ashbourne’s sculpture, is made with re-purposed steel plow blades, re-creating a mountain landscape painting by A.Y. Jackson.
Linda Finn was inspired to use cast paper, celebrating growth as Renewal, in her dialogue with Dora de Pédery-Hunt, a Hungarian immigrant renowned for her cast metal work in medallions in the 1960’s.
OSA works are found throughout Canada in public collections. Our anniversary publication, Breath. Heart. Spirit. The OSA 150 Years. reproduces works from the National Gallery, Robert McLaughlin, Hamilton, Winnipeg, Vancouver, and Homer Watson galleries as well as the Canadian War Museum collection, and Museum London. The Ontario Government Art Collection holds many contemporary OSA artists’ works as well as the rich collection of purchases inaugurated with the OSA’s first exhibition in 1872.
Janet Read, OSA Chair: Conversations
Excerpt from the OSA 150th Anniversary Catalogue