Household names Bruce Cockburn, Jesse Cook and Chris Hadfield feature in The Group of Seven Guitar Project
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection invites visitors to experience the works of seven Canadian guitar makers renowned the world over. Curated by Sarah Stanners, the McMichael’s Chief Curator, The Group of Seven Guitar Project puts the spotlight on eight handmade guitars commissioned by the McMichael from great Canadian luthiers Jean Larrivée, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, Sergei de Jonge, William “Grit” Laskin, Linda Manzer and David Wren.
This special exhibition at the McMichael introduces acoustic instruments inspired by and honouring each member of the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson. The show runs from May 6 until October 29, 2017, and is the first of its kind at the McMichael.
“Music lovers will fall in love with the visual arts, and art lovers will fall in love with the artistry attached to the music industry,” said exhibition curator Sarah Stanners. “This unprecedented project at the McMichael is so much more than a typical museum exhibition,” she added.
Accompanying these extraordinary handcrafted guitars will be a display of the luthiers’ preparatory drawings, materials, and tools used throughout their discovery-of-the-artist and creation processes – all set within the context of the artworks that inspired them. Select paintings and drawings by the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson will prime viewers to make the connection between the talents and passions of each artist and the guitars they inspired.
In addition, the McMichael has commissioned a feature-length documentary on the making of each guitar by Gemini Award-winning production company Riddle Films, which will screen within an innovative and interactive exhibition space. Scenes from the film include jam sessions with the original masterwork guitars by celebrated musicians Bruce Cockburn, Jesse Cook, Don Ross and more.
Exhibition-related programming will see award-winning guitarists such as Tony McManus and Emma Rush perform at the McMichael on select concert dates running from May to October. On May 7, the legendary Larrivée – whose P-01 guitar made history when it was played in space by Chris Hadfield – will share the stage with the Canadian astronaut in one of many Acoustic Conversations to be held at the McMichael.
An idea conceived by luthier Linda Manzer in 2012, The Group of Seven Guitar Project applauds a formidable group of Canadian artists from a century ago while demonstrating the global influence of a new group of seven that has, since the early 1970s, shaped the sound and form of the guitar under the tutelage of Jean Larrivée in Toronto. The camaraderie of this new group of seven is palpable, and their handmade guitars will make one see the artists they’ve always loved in a new way.
The luthiers and their respective artists are as follows: Jean Larrivée (A.Y. Jackson), Tony Duggan-Smith (Arthur Lismer), George Gray (Frank Johnston), Sergei de Jonge (J.E.H. MacDonald), William “Grit” Laskin (Frederick H. Varley), Linda Manzer (Lawren Harris) and David Wren (Franklin Carmichael). The eighth guitar, in a tribute to Tom Thomson (who died mysteriously before the Group formed in 1920) is a collaborative effort by all seven luthiers working together.
This year’s unveiling of The Group of Seven Guitar Project coincides with the 150th anniversary of Ontario as a province and Canada as a nation. A cultural institution, the McMichael celebrates The Art of Canada* with a major exhibition dedicated to the art of guitar making inspired by the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson.