This fall, two new exhibitions put Canadian war artists in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s sights

Beaverbrook Art GallerySeptember 8, 20160 Comments

This fall, two new exhibitions put Canadian war artists in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s sights

Fredericton, N.B., September 8, 2016 – New exhibitions open September 16, launching the first part of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery’s fall season. The public is cordially invited to attend the opening reception at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Friday, September 16, 2016 at 6 pm. Opening that day are two exhibitions that share a focus on the contemporary and historical war experience, and which emphasize portraiture and landscapes as well as the imagery of war.

The First World War was a defining moment in Canadian history. To commemorate its centenary, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is proud to bring Witness – Canadian Art of the First World War, a travelling exhibition from the Canadian War Museum, to Fredericton, NB. Supported by National Presenting Sponsor TD Bank Group, this uniquely evocative exhibition gives Canadians an opportunity to view never-before-seen paintings and drawings — by official war artists and by soldiers in the trenches — and to appreciate how art was used to document and communicate wartime experiences to families and the public a hundred years ago. With very few exceptions, the works on display in Witness are from the War Museum’s Beaverbrook Collection of War Art.

“As Canada’s foremost museum of military history, we are uniquely positioned to tell the many stories of the First World War,” says Stephen Quick, Director General of the Canadian War Museum. “The Beaverbrook Collection of War Art provides a visual legacy of the First World War and many of the unforgettable artworks in this exhibition illuminate the impact of the War on individuals and the country.”

“We are particularly pleased to host this remarkable exhibition, which provides special insight into the Canadian experience of the First World War,” says Beaverbrook Art Gallery Director/CEO and Chief Curator Terry Graff. “Of course, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery has a natural affiliation with the Canadian War Museum by virtue of our founder, Lord Beaverbrook, who also established the Canadian War Memorials Fund (CWMF) in 1916 to commission official war artists to paint the Canadian war effort. As Lord Beaverbrook stated, ‘only paintings could provide the most permanent and vital form in which the great deeds of the Canadian Nation in the war could be enshrined for posterity.’”

Adjacent to this historical display is an exhibition of contemporary works by Canadian artist Allan Harding MacKay in the exhibition, Allan Harding Mackay: War Artist, Portraitist, and Landscapist: A Celebration of Gifts from the Artist. On display is a selection of artworks highlighting three areas of the artist’s work: portraits, nighttime landscapes, and war art images. The artworks featured in this exhibition are a selection of the over 160 works gifted by the artist to the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, a gift which the Gallery is honoured to have received and is greatly pleased to be able to display and share with visitors.

Since 1993, MacKay’s Somalia war artist experience has featured prominently in his art practice, and his Somalia Yellow Series has produced award-winning videos, drawings, paintings, collages and prints that were featured in exhibitions and collected by museums across the country. In July 2002, the artist participated in a pilot project of the Canadian Forces Artist Program as a war artist with Operation Apollo in Afghanistan.

“Visitors will find his unique style intriguing,” says Beaverbrook Art Gallery Senior Curator Jeffrey Spalding. “He uses a mixture of photography and hand-painted elements to create evocative and sensitive artworks, whether they be his disarming intimate portraits of women, his mood-filled nocturnal urban landscapes or his reminiscences of armed conflicts. Throughout his work we are enchanted by MacKay’s compassion, tenderness and human empathy. His video work Somalia Yellow, I would contend, is the poignant contemporary equal of the moving First World War masterwork by Frederick Varley simultaneously on display in Witness.”

MacKay has been a mainstay in Canada’s arts community; in addition to his work being acquired into numerous collections, he has served as artist in residence and visiting artist at a number of institutions, and has worked for many years as a respected gallery director, curator and arts administrator.

In conjunction with these exhibitions, the Beaverbrook Art Gallery is pleased to present an engaging programming series connected to the themes and works on view. On September 17 at 3 pm, Allan Harding MacKay will present insights into his art and life, and on Sunday, September 18 at 3 pm, curator Laura Brandon will give a presentation on the exhibition Witness – Canadian Art of the First World War. Then, in collaboration with the Gregg Centre for the Study of War and Society at UNB, the Gallery will host two lectures about New Brunswick’s and Canada’s contributions to the Great War in November, as well as hosting a forum with students and teachers from George Street Middle School about their work researching soldier biographies. All of these events will be free and open to the public.

Witness – Canadian Art of the First World War is a travelling exhibition developed by the Canadian War Museum. It is on display at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery from September 17, 2016 to January 15, 2017.

Allan Harding MacKay: War Artist, Portraitist, and Landscapist: A Celebration of Gifts from the Artist is curated by Jeffrey Spalding and organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, and also runs September 17, 2016 through January 15, 2017.


Media: High-res images available upon request.

About the Beaverbrook Art Gallery

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery was founded by Lord Beaverbrook on September 16, 1959. The Gallery is internationally known for its collection of Atlantic Canadian, Canadian, British, and International works of art. The Beaverbrook Art Gallery “enriches life through art”. As the official art gallery of New Brunswick, and one of Canada’s leading art galleries and most important cultural treasures, its mission is to “bring art and community together in a dynamic cultural environment dedicated to the highest standards in acquisitions, exhibitions, programming, education and stewardship.”

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery enriches life through art.
La Galerie d'art Beaverbrook enrichit la vie par l'art.

Media Contacts
Jeremy Elder-Jubelin
Manager of Communications and Visitor Services
Beaverbrook Art Gallery
703 Queen Street, P.O. Box 605
Fredericton, NB  E3E 5A6
Phone: (506) 458-2039
Fax: (506) 458-2028

Avra Gibbs Lamey
Senior Communications and Media Relations Officer
Canadian War Museum
1, place Vimy Place, Ottawa ON  K1A 0M8
Telephone: 819-776-8607
Fax: 819-776-8623

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