Canada House is the home of the High Commission of Canada to the United Kingdom and hosts consular facilities for Canadians. It is a place where they can renew passports, apply for emergency assistance and other services. The building is used for special events, conferences and hosts Canadian-related exhibitions, such as this one, related to the Group of Seven.
The original Group of Seven were Canadian visual artists (painters) from the first recognized art movement formed in the country in the 1920s. They all had a strong connection with nature and a desire to create a distinctive Canadian art from with that philosophy. (There are probably better sources for this but an easy read on the Group of Seven is here at Wikipedia with links to individual artists and their works.) AND, to see some of their works, Blogger William just posted on the Group of Seven's art in Ontario's National Gallery, so please check him out HERE.
Seven master luthiers from Canada were commissioned to create an exhibition of unique and beautifully designed guitars, as their materials describe, "forging a collective legacy that has shaped the global guitar-making industry. They recognized the same creative spirit and camaraderie of the Group of Seven artists with their love for their country and passion for mastering their materials. Each luthier chose a Group of Seven artist as their inspiration and crafted a guitar based on their work, life, words or philosophy, as interpreted by the luthier.
We greatly enjoyed the explanatory film. This isn't it, but it gives a great overview of the original Group of Seven and the Guitar Project.
Luthier Tony Duggan-Smith created his guitar based on the art of Arthur Lismer. Lismer, a founding member of the Group of Seven, spent time at Nova Scotia School of Art and Design as a professor; Duggan-Smith was a student there some years later.
The spoon at the head of Duggan-Smith's guitar is a relic of the luthier's days at the school, but he feels his guitar is more a connection of the pair's creative connection and East Coast beginnings.
David Wren found inspiration in the work of Franklin Carmichael. Wren said he felt at liberty to take risks and in doing so interpreted some of Carmichael's sketches and prints using a technique called pyrography, a first for the luthier.
His research revealed personal connections to the artist and incorporated that feeling into his design. "He was a meat-and-potatoes kind of guy and I like that," Wren said, remaining committed to the meat-and-potatoes of his own craft -- Building a guitar that sounds great.
He included a self-portrait on the neck of his guitar where he holds a drawing by Varley titled "Constance."
He also rendered Varley's own words in reaction to World War I on the instrument, including, around the sound hold, "For What?" and "oh, if it were only possible for you people to know what it was like" along the soundboard, a look back at the tradition of protest statements on soundboards, such as those of Woody Guthrie.
Larrivee's wife Wendy and their son Matthew also contributed to the creative process and explains the choice to keep the grandest part of the aesthetic design to the interior of the instrument as a reflection of how a work of art is an expression of what the artist feels inside and that the interiority of the artist is one of the most compelling aspects expressed in a work of art. "Growing up in Ontario I really felt that the works of the Group had impacted heavily on how I and generations of Canadians viewed our landscape, that I had somehow internalized these images and they had become part of the world as I knew it," she says. The red maple leaf on the fret board inlay was inspired by Jackson's "The Red Maple."
Linda Manzer's guitar is based on work by Lawren Harris and her design was in imagination of what Harris might create if he built guitars. His paintings and Manzer's guitar include body form and color. She drew particularly on two of his works, "Mt. Lefroy"and "Icebergs, Davis Strait," along with an oil sketch called "In the Ward." She was also inspired by Harris' letters to Emily Carr, urging her to be brave and explore. Manzer painted her guitar and "sculpted" it as well.
The guitar looks like an archtop by is internally a flat-top guitar, a construction that lends strength to withstand the pressure of all the strings and allowed her to carve curves depicted by Harris in "Mt. Lefroy."
Sergei de Jonge discovered that his "artist," J.E. H. MacDonald, painted close to the luthier's home and shop in the Gatineau area. De Jonge's guitar is made from wood sourced in the various places that the artist sought to paint and the only handmade guitar made from birch.
Harris felt MacDonald was the "wise man" of the Group of Seven and De Jonge has been described by his fellow luthiers as "the quiet sage amongst their groups." Both De Jonge and MacDonald have had teaching careers in their disciplines.
So there you have it. If you'd like more on any of these luthiers, put their name into the youtube search box (ex. Linda Manzer Group of Seven) and you'll see some terrific videos that includes their music and descriptions of their creative processes as they build the guitars featured in the exhibit.
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