Learning to See...

They were the first Canadian artists to say "hey, this is what it looks like where we live". Their paintings were among the first to convey what it felt like, as well as what it looked like to be here. Not in or from anywhere else but here... and 'here' is amazing.

They painted cities, villages and ports; they painted south to way north, east to west coast; they painted mines, mountains, icebergs, steeples and people. In both word and deed, they said “art is important”, and when people saw their paintings, many walked away going “you know, they might just be right.”

In the beginning, there were 7 living painters and one unofficially official one who had died before they formed the group. His name was Tom Thompson, and they had a lot of respect for his work and his influence on their own. Ultimately, there would be 11 people in the Group of 7. Through necessity, desire, design and serendipity, their influence went far beyond galleries where paintings are hung.

They were all, by turn, art teachers, mentors, lecturers, advocates and professional graphic artists when all were few and far between... in a very big... where a train was as fast as you could go, and there were many places they did not. Alone and in different combinations, they painted in nearly every province and territory of Canada.

Once they felt they had done what they had set out to do, they dismantled what these days might now be called a ‘highly successful brand’, and set out to work with other artists on a new possibility that would include more artists from more places across the country.

As a deliberate project by a group of artists, it remains the benchmark for a success. In painting across so many rays of latitude and longitude, they created a language to help us imagine that vastness, to places we might never go but which were and are a part of us. Their paintings helped 'us' to see ourselves as part of something much larger and more beautiful than we knew. They helped us to imagine each other... an ongoing process in this country that is perhaps the most beautiful thing about it.


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