Contemporary Artists, Wild with Passion
Designed & Published by Andrea Hillo
Edited by Leonard Pizzey
Foreword by Robert Bateman
“Hillo designed the book herself, and it is quite a rich, professionally done anthology strong with confidence
and purpose. It is a very striking 72-page large full colour hardcover, a coffee table book with the art front and centre.” Jason Dickson, Muskoka Magazine
The Artists of Algonquin
Foreword by Robert Bateman
“There are two reasons why I think that this book “The Artists of Algonquin” is a good idea. One is that Algonquin and area has for most of my life been a place very close to my heart. The other is that it is heartwarming to find a group of artists that have a sense of place ... any place.I began reading about the wonderful and wild northland as a child. When, in 1939, our family started to visit Haliburton County every summer, I felt that I was immersing myself in a corner of that fabulous northland. I looked to the blue hills beyond the north end of Lake Boshkung and imagined the great wilderness of Algonquin Park. In 1947 at the age of 17, I landed a dream job at the Wildlife Research Camp, north of Lake of Two Rivers. I was a student “chore boy” but I observed nature and drew and painted my surroundings for four glorious summers. The land is in my blood and my blood is in the blackflies that committed suicide in my oil paintings. My second reason stems from the alarming fact that young people are losing their sense of place due to the invasion of electronic screens. If the future generations consider their place to be virtual and generic what kind of future are we looking at? I love the sense of place shown in the works by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven.It has been said that you could tell what week in March it was that Thomson did each of his oil sketches. He loved and observed nature so well.It is good to see a new generation put its heart and talent into this place that has stirred so many hearts”.
Robert Bateman, Artist and Naturalist
Robert Bateman at easel in Algonquin Park. c1948.
Lake Sasajewun. Oil.
Bat Lake II. Oil.
Lake Sasajewun. Oil.
Madawaska River. Oil.
"In 1947 at the age of 17, I landed a dream job at the Wildlife Research Camp, north of Lake of Two Rivers. I was a student “chore boy” but I observed nature and drew and painted my surroundings for four glorious summers."
Robert Bateman - artist, naturalist
“The stunning full-colour reproductions of artwork by artists focusing on the Algonquin region are truly exquisite.”
Stephen Harper, Former Prime Minister of Canada
The Artists of Algonquin
Introduction by Leonard Pizzey
The creative impulse is a mysterious force in human life. Why are people
compelled to make art?
Just as we have a need to name things as a way of understanding and organizing our experience and the natural world that surrounds us, so too are we compelled to organize and synthesize our impressions in works of art. Art, like language, allows us to connect with each other and to share our experience. Whether it is a photograph that captures a scene in a way that we have not experienced ourselves, or a painting that expresses what the artist felt and perceived in the moment of inspiration, art communicates experience and connects people with the world around them, and with each other.
Through the making of art, people express their inner being in a language
of colour and image and emotion that words cannot replicate.
There is within each of us, the desire to do the impossible. We want to make transient things permanent and ineffable experiences concrete. Through art
we strive to share the inspiration and joy of a moment, to express perfection,
and to reach for the ideal of beauty.
Art is a compulsion, a need, a joy, a revelation, a visual language, a way
of expressing not merely what the eye sees but what the spirit feels.
It is also a way of making emotional experiences concrete. Art is a profoundly personal expression of the artist’s talents, perceptions and spirit. It exists outside of it’s creator, and it lives on immutably while all around it changes. That, perhaps, is part of its appeal. When we look at a work by Tom Thomson, for instance, we see something essential and powerful about the Algonquin landscape he loved, but we also see and feel the tremendous creative energy with which Thomson expressed his vision. His brush strokes are strong and assured, uniquely his own, and in them we see the creative energy and relentless passion of the artist who made them.
The making of art is both selfish and selfless. It is a personal impulse and a
private act, yet it is meant to be shared.
Whether they manipulate a camera, apply oil paint to canvas, shape malleable materials or use fabrics as a medium, all of the artists represented here find inspiration in the rugged beauty of the Algonquin region. For many, the landscape and wildlife are the subject matter they express. For others, the setting provides the tranquility and inspiration which make artistic expression possible.
Each of them offers a unique perspective that they are driven to share with
a wide audience. The art reproduced here is representative of their work
but only a glimpse of it. The artists’ studio locations are listed at the end
of the book. You are welcome to contact them and arrange a visit to
experience a much wider range of the art they continue to create.
Shelley Beach • Joyce Burkholder Donna Caldwell • Andrew Collett David Dawson • Janet Stahle
Kathy M. Haycock • Andrew A. Hillo Kevin Hockley • Lori Kallay
David Kay • Mark Kulas
John Lennard • Chuck Lewis
Sandi Luck • Jay McCarten
Corey Pietryszyn • Elke Scholz
Jane Selbie • Elizabeth Siegfried Gertrud Sorensen • Linda Sorensen Rob Stimpson • Eric Tenn
Carole Ann Thur • Catherine Timm Sophia Tink • Wendy Wallace
Muskoka Magazine Review by Jason Dickson
Artists with Algonquin connection featured in coffee table book.
The Algonquin Park region has inspired a great many artists over the years – Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven being among the most obvious celebrants. In fact, the work of their group, also known as the Algonquin School, has helped to forever etch this area in our minds as the iconic Canadian landscape.
Their love of the area began what some consider to be the first genuine homegrown Canadian art movement. So it is understandable that, almost a century later, it remains a region that sits very comfortably in the centre of Canadian Art history.
It is a region that is truly unique and impressive. It is, frankly, the sort of place an artist could easily get lost.
The recent publication of The Artists of Algonquin, a project of passion for Harcourt, Ontario designer Andrea Hillo, is a testament to the enduring effect of the area. Inspired by a trip to the McMichael Gallery in Kleinburg, a gallery that boasts over 6,000 artworks by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, Hillo began a search for contemporary artists who take their cues from the Algonquin landscape.
She visited galleries, had many interviews and assembled a collection of names, that to her, best represented the work of artists who carry on this tradition. That search resulted in this book, a 31 artist collection meant to survey the more interesting and established artists in the area.
Hillo designed the book herself, and it is quite a rich, professionally done anthology strong with confidence and purpose. It is a very striking 72-page large full colour hardcover, a coffee table book, with the artwork front and centre.
Taking the boundaries of Haliburton County, Bancroft, Muskoka and Barry’s Bay as her guide, Hillo has assembled quite a tour of artists from the region. If one were inclined, it would be quite a day trip (or week trip) to head out visiting each of these artists’ studios.
Introduced by established artist Robert Bateman, the book offers a solid two-page spread for each artist, and is a cut above this sort of anthology in the quality of its reproductions. (This is a very important thing, especially with art books.)
The majority of the book, of course, is devoted to landscapes. And it is no surprise that a region celebrated for its natural beauty would inspire artists to prominently reproduce that beauty in representational works.
Muskoka artists are well represented. Bracebridge’s Carole Ann Thur is included, as well as the prolific artist, author, and art therapist Elke Scholz, also from Bracebridge. The elegant gouache paintings of Gravenhurst’s David Dawson, who makes part of his living in architectural rendering, are also especially nice.
The works of Muskoka photographer Andrew Collett and Rob Stimpson, painter and print maker Janet Stahle-Fraser and artist and art teacher Wendy Wallace are also featured in the book.
Hillo fortunately also offers some room for artists who take a bit more unusual approach to their subject, and because of their unique qualities these artists stand out. Artists such as Kevin Hockley, who worked as a taxidermist at the Royal Ontario Museum, shines with his dramatic animal sculptures. His Hockley Studios offers museum quality display work, and this professional background is brought into his more creative efforts.
Also impressive are the striking, almost folk art like, images of Pembroke and Muskoka, Ontario artist Mark Kulas. His colourful Norval Morrisseau inspired paintings provide a contrast to the bevy of traditional landscape reproduced within the pages. Kulas’ background as a graphic designer and illustrator lends a great deal of composition and punch to what might otherwise be standard designs.
Also interesting are the almost Fauvist-like works of Central Ontario artist John Lennard. His work appears as the Group of Seven with a tinge of psychedelic volume. Lennard’s education as an artist included trips to Europe to study the masters. But one wonders if the exciting work of the French “wild beasts” did not make an impression as well.
The textile work of artist Jane Selbie, whose methods of layering fabric to create intriguing landscapes, are also very interesting. They step beyond the picayune manner of many common landscape paintings to be dramatic, moody, and at times very vibrant.
Also a stand-out is the textile work of Catherine Timm. Through this interesting medium she manages to create very atmospheric images, many of which almost seem like etchings or simple coloured woodcuts. Her art cloths can include fabric or fibre, as well as paint, wire, paper, and beads.
If I have one beef it is Bateman’s inability to resist taking a swipe at “electronic screens” and their supposed effect on youth in his introduction. As a book lover and avid video gamer I can confidently testify to being able to place a solid three hours of video games and still deeply appreciate the regional beauty of my backyard. I even go out into the woods for walks.
Muskoka, along with Haliburton County and Algonquin Park, are truly some of the most beautiful regions in Canada. It is heartening to see projects such as this are being pursued. Not to mention, it is good knowing that artists still carry on the devoted traditions of the Algonquin School. Nothing bad can come from more people knowing about how beautiful it is here. And these works are very good ambassadors.