Painting Class – Memories of A Non-Dutiful Artist, 2005

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In this work, I explored the idea behind the tradition specific to Southern Ontario; leaving the city of Toronto, and going to the cottage north of the city. 


This idea intersects with  the Group of 7 (c.1920-30s) colonizing vision that it is the wilderness and thus landscape paintings that define Canada as a Nation. They spoke and wrote about painted landscapes in this way, not the portraits, not history paintings, not genre paintings, etc.. The Group’s artists went to the lakes of central and northern Ontario to paint the country there, not the people, animals, or industry. 


In this project, I documented the trees of the City of Toronto, that for me had an overt gesture. I took the videos as I walked, or rode my bike, to work. I took many video clips, and later selected 234 clips of trees that performed, part of the urban forest.


Travelling between the city and the cottage, or as we call it in Ontario, the bush, was/is part of my life. I spent time at our family cottage throughout the year growing up and now again being back in Ontario. In the 1950s and 60s parts of the land around this lake was opened for sale by the government. The lands around Ontario’s many lakes were surveyed and people could buy small lots to build a cottage. In our case, this continued the colonizing project of Treaty 27 of 1822 and Algonquin unceded territory. 


Today we travel across the lake to our cottage, in aluminum boats and 9.9 Evinrude or Johnson engines, not in a canoe, not bush-whacking through the forest as Group of 7 members did. I took video clips at the lake, as well, as evidence of the colonizing project, its place and the presence of land, water, trees, and rock outcrop shorelines.