Nova Scotians visiting the Canadian High Commission in London might get a glimpse of home and a piece of their art collection after a recent loan from the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia
Arthur Lismer's Docks on Bay of Fundy was painted in 1943, when he was likely on one of many visits made after his tenure as principal of the then-Victoria School of Art and Design, now NSCAD University.
As a Nova Scotian, I am proud that this wonderful painting is being loaned to Canada House, said Premier Stephen McNeil. Mr. Lismers depiction of a dock on the Bay of Fundy is a scene out of my childhood and that of many Nova Scotians. I look forward to it being shared with visitors to Canada House.
The painting is being loaned to Canada House as it re-opens after renovations. For the first time in more than 50 years, the revitalized Canada House on Trafalgar Square brings together all Canadian High Commission activities under one roof in the heart of London. The building includes meeting rooms named after every province and territory. These rooms include art and design pieces from their namesake. The new Canada House will be officially opened in late February.
"On behalf of everyone involved with this ambitious revitalization of Canada House, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the people of Nova Scotia and Premier Stephen McNeil for their generosity in loaning us this key piece of art with such strong ties to both Nova Scotia and the United Kingdom," said Gordon Campbell, High Commissioner of Canada.
"A man born in England, who became a war artist for Canada and a founding member of the Group of Seven, it is a truly special painting that bridges the Atlantic. We are proud to display such a beautiful piece of our shared history."
A native of Sheffield, England, Mr. Lismer achieved fame as a charter member of The Group of Seven, the artistic cohort who did more than any other group of artists, to define a distinctly Canadian sensibility in modern art.
In 1916, Mr. Lismer, who had been living in Toronto since 1911, accepted the job as principal of the Victoria School of Art and Design in Halifax and curator of the Nova Scotia Museum of Fine Arts (now the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia). He was an official war artist during the First World War and documented the war effort as seen from Halifax, one of the busiest ports on the Atlantic. He was in Halifax for the Halifax Explosion, and documented its after-effects.
He left Halifax in 1919 to become the vice-principal of the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University) in Toronto. While Mr. Lismer never lived in Nova Scotia again, he often visited, making paintings of the seashore and other scenes right through to the '60s.
Docks on Bay of Fundy depicts the high wharves used along the Bay of Fundy, and would likely have been painted on a sketching trip. It was purchased with funds donated by Sheldon and Marjorie Fountain, whose family roots are in the Bay of Fundy region of Nova Scotia.
The painting will hang in Canada's High Commission for about three years, when it will be returned to Halifax.