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Works by the Group of Seven and Inuit artists come together at McMichael in Northern Narratives
Lawren S. Harris (1885-1970), Icebergs, Davis Strait, 1930, oil on canvas, 121.9 x 152.4 cm, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. H. Spencer Clark, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1971.17.

KLEINBURG, ON.- The mystique and spiritual power of the North are explored in the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s new exhibition Northern Narratives, running until May 17, 2015. The show features seventy works, including drawings, paintings, sculptures, and prints that address the cultural interchange between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal peoples in the North. Also included are two film excerpts documenting Lawren Harris’s 1930 trip to the Arctic.

Works by members of the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, including Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Frederick Varley, and Sir Frederick Banting, represent the perspective of first-time, non-Aboriginal travellers who were driven north by a sense of the Arctic as an imagined, powerful place, while carvings and works of art on paper by Inuit artists such as Tim Pitsiulak, Kananginak Pootoogook, Pudlo Pudlat, Pitseolak Ashoona, and Napachie Pootoogook, give expression to traditional Inuit narratives about the land as a source of sustenance, spirituality, and interconnectedness.

Northern Narratives adds a new dimension to the major special exhibition Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art, 1775-2012, on display in the McMichael’s upper gallery spaces from January 31 to April 26, 2015. Vanishing Ice, which originated at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham, Washington, offers a glimpse into the rich cultural legacy of the planet’s frozen frontiers as represented by an international selection of artists, writers, and naturalists over a period of more than 200 years. Northern Narratives, installed on the gallery’s main level, offers a uniquely Canadian perspective on the North, and highlights the works and lived experiences of the Inuit people.

“The breadth of Inuit artists’ imagery presented in drawings, sculpture, and prints not only illustrates the wisdom of their traditional cultural knowledge, but also provides a means to interpret contemporary experiences that have influenced the values and interests of the current generation of artists and northern communities,” said Chris Finn, McMichael Assistant Curator.

“Canadians have always felt a powerful connection to the North. It is part of our story, who we are,” said Victoria Dickenson, Executive Director and CEO of the McMichael. “Northern Narratives considers the various impressions and representations of the Arctic expressed by some of our country’s most important Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal artists. Their works have shaped and continue to shape our ideas about the North and our identity as Canadians.”

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