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Lecture 5

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North American Studies
Kevin Spooner

 Tom Thomson (1877 - 1917)  Born in Pickering  Moved to Owen Sound  Sixth of ten children  Family environment fostered creativity  Played several musical instruments  Learned the basics of drawing and painting at home  Was a sickly boy  Never attended secondary school  Still went to business college in Seattle, Washington  Became a commercial artist as a result of the studies he did  He is another "transnational" figure  From Owen Sound to Seattle  Left Seattle for a romance with a woman  Whilst proposing to her, he takes her incessant nervous giggling as a "no" and leaves the city and comes back to Owen Sound  Attended night school to become an artist  While in Toronto, J.E.H. MacDonald was his mentor in art that helped him to establish his technique  Both worked for Grip ™ in Toronto  In 1912, Thomson returns to Toronto after a fishing trip  Brings back a series of sketchings and paintings from Algonquin Park  Really illustrated an expansive wilderness that is untouched by humanity  His first major painting: A Northern Lake (1913/4)  Bought by the Ontarian gov't for $250  In 1915, goes back to Algonquin park with some of his friends (Frederick Varley, Arthur Lismer, A.Y. Jackson)  Develops a style of art  He lays the groundwork for the style of painting that the Group of Seven is going to embrace  They discussed developing art to develop a national Canadian consciousness (identity); deliberately creating a Canadian identity through art  Thomson begins sketching every Spring and Fall in Algonquin Park  Lives at Mowat Lodge while working as a guide in Summer  Returns to Toronto in the Winter months  Studio Building in Toronto was built for the Group of Seven to work in  Thomson leaves behind 15 paintings and over 300 sketchings at the time of his death  Thomson's death is a bit of a mystery  July 1917, went for a fishing trip  His body was later found floating in the lake  Death ruled an accidental drowning by coroner without actually ever exhuming the body (the body was buried)  Speculation as to whether it was a suicide  Some believe that Trainor was engaged to Thomson prior to his death and was carrying his child  She disappeared to America for enough time that she could  His friends made the peculiar decision to bury him right away  Thomson's family wanted his body buried in Lee-yith  There's speculation is that an empty coffin was buried instead  A drunk group of people dug up Thomson's grave and found a skull  Ontario gov't claimed that it was the skull of a younger, Aboriginal  Later, it was found that the skull could potentially be Thomson's  Canoe lake, Algonquin Park  Rugged  Cold  Northern  Impenetrable  Wilderness  Isolated  Unpeopled  Barren  Fits Thomson's personality  Emily Carr (1871 - 1945)  Became associated with the Group of Seven almost a decade after Thomson's death  The fifth of five daughters  Her father was a British immigrant; successful merchant that sold supplies to miners, owned a grocery store and a liquor store  Her mother was bedridden with TB; never had a close relationship with her  Carr and her father had a close relationship; when she's a teen, some incident occurs, and then she is estranged from her father  Her sisters don't respect her at all; don't respect her artistic side  Carr is a "lone wolf"; no family support; very isolated  She is also a "transnational" figure  She goes to art schools in San Francisco, and later Europe (London and Paris), to learn artistic techniques (landscape and watercolour techniques)  Her painting technique is very influenced by post-impressionism  Returns to BC after her sojourn in Paris  Begins a six week sketching trip to document Canadian culture  Disappearing First Nations cultures is one of two central themes in her work; the other is Western landscape in Canada  Paintings that she produces during her first sketching trip don't really sell  Thus, she makes the decision to go back to Victoria, buy a building, and become the landlady in order to make an income  About 15 years later, her painting begins to get wider attention  Was asked to participate in the National Gallery of Canada  Here she meets Lawren Harris (member of the Group
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