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Legacy of The Sisters of St. Ann celebrated at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria
Sister Mary Seraphina (née Blanche Simard), (1892 – 1954) Canadian, Bringing in the Hay, 1930, oil on canvas, On Deposit at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria from the Collection of the Sisters of St. Ann, Victoria, B.C.

VICTORIA, BC.- The role of the Sisters of St. Ann as pioneering artists and art educators in Victoria is being commemorated in a new exhibition, which opened this summer at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Nurturing the Creative Spirit: The Sisters of St. Ann runs from July 18 through Dec. 8 in the AGGV’s Drury Gallery and celebrates the 2011 deposit of eighteen paintings from the Sisters’ art collection at the Gallery. The works include important historic scenes of early Victoria, inspiring religious works, and Emily Carr’s painting, Wild Lilies, which is currently on display in the AGGV’s feature exhibition Emily Carr: On the Edge of Nowhere. Carr gave the painting to the Sisters of St. Ann in appreciation for the care they provided to her sister Elizabeth, who died in 1936.

“The Sisters of St. Ann can be credited with making a significant contribution to the visual arts in Victoria, both as teachers and artists,” Said Michelle Jacques, Chief Curator, AGGV. “This exhibition will provide an opportunity to appreciate and reflect upon the artistic legacy of the Sisters in our community.”

In 1858, a small group of Sisters - the Sisters of St. Ann - traveled from Quebec to establish a convent in Victoria. They also established institutions of education, notably St. Ann’s Academy, which is recognized as one of the first schools in BC to offer an art program. The Sisters recognized the potential of art education to ready students for both the spiritual and practical aspects of life, for 103 years, from 1873 until the Academy closed in 1973, the Sisters offered classes to students and the broader community.

“In Victoria, art bridged religious, social, racial and age divides as well as linking a community of religious women to the larger secular community,” said guest Curator and Archivist, Sisters of St. Ann, Carey Pallister. “The Sisters’ and student art was sold at annual bazaars to raise money, and the Sisters taught art not only to their students but the women of Victoria as well. These external relationships encouraged a legacy of art education that is still recognized today.”

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