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Museum provides a creative way to get outside (4 photos)

'The vision and creativity captured in this year’s exhibition continues to explore the Canadian landscape in new and dynamic ways,' says official

If you’re feeling hesitant to get outside in November, you’re not alone. It’s the one month during the “shoulder season” – between sunny warm days and crisp, snowy winter days – that we can be faced with cold, gloomy weather that beckons us to stay indoors.

But don’t despair; you can embrace creativity to find other ways to enjoy the outdoors.

November is a perfect time to venture into the Orillia Museum of Art & History (OMAH) to discover how the outdoors has inspired some of Canada’s best artists.

Currently on display at OMAH is the annual Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition, which showcases the work of 75 artists as they explore this year’s theme, Tradition Transformed.

The exhibition honours the legacy of Group of Seven member Franklin Carmichael, who was born in Orillia in 1890 and was known for his progressive vision as he interpreted the rugged wilderness of Ontario in his paintings.

Now in its 19th year, this juried show calls on artists from across Canada to submit work that is inspired by our nation’s landscape.

“This year, the jurors reviewed an unprecedented 391 submissions, from which they chose 75 works,” explained OMAH Executive Director Ninette Gyorody. “The Group of Seven created a uniquely Canadian identity through their works of art. The vision and creativity captured in this year’s exhibition continues to explore the Canadian landscape in new and dynamic ways.”

The diversity of art styles and media in the show makes it stand out. Along with painting and photography, the exhibit features printmaking, sculpture, drawing, textiles and mixed media.

The works of art depict the artist’s perception of the landscape or experience being outdoors, with one piece even displaying the walking routes followed regularly by the artist.

It was made by the artist using a hand-held pendulum. Many of the works show how the artists are connected to nature or share memories of their experiences in nature.  

Each work of art is accompanied by a statement from the artist that could be a story, comment or critique. The inspiration behind the work is often described, and this year, many of the statements also express how the global pandemic has made an impact on the artist or shaped their work.

As a way to celebrate the annual Carmichael Exhibition, OMAH is offering a “Watercolour Workshop En Plein Air” with local artist and art educator, Juliana Hawke. The masterpieces of Carmichael and other members of the Group of Seven were created “plein air” or in the open air.

Juliana Hawke is known for her artwork in a variety of media, including watercolour, pen and ink and printmaking. She spent many years working as an illustrator, creating nature-based works for provincial and national parks, as well as painting for commissions.

Her work has appeared in numerous art shows and she has been instrumental in organizing the annual International Women’s Day Art Show at OMAH and the Images Studio Tour. She has worked with the Orillia Museum of Art & History as an art educator for over 20 years.

“I am always inspired by the Carmichael Exhibition,” said Hawke. “The Group of Seven were pretty radical for their time; they went against the norm and found new ways of expressing the landscape.

"This exhibit captures that spirit. It makes me think about what I can do in my work that’s a bit different or that will add some excitement," said Hawke.

In her Watercolour En Plein Air Workshop, Hawke will talk about Franklin Carmichael’s work and his techniques, the perils of painting outside and provide instruction before participants tackle their own masterpieces.

The workshop takes place on Tuesday, November 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Stephen Leacock Museum property. All materials are supplied and a box lunch is included.

For more details about the workshop and to register, visit the OMAH website.

The Carmichael Canadian Landscape Exhibition runs until Jan. 17, 2021 at the Orillia Museum of Art & History, Tuesdays to Saturdays, 12 noon to 3 p.m. Due to COVID restrictions, visitors must book a time to visit in advance by phone (705-326-2159) or by emailing Admission is a suggested $5 or by OMAH membership.