‘The Drive’ is now open at Museum London

On view through September 12

Anchored by the Art Gallery of Guelph’s major Tom Thomson canvas of the same title, the touring exhibition ‘The Drive’ situates the work of Thomson, the Group of Seven, and their peers in relation to diverse Indigenous and Canadian artists to highlight the complexity of the representation of landscape–particularly in relation to the history of resource development.

Thomson’s The Drive (1916-17), among the artist’s most significant paintings, features the logging industry in Algonquin Park, a subject often overshadowed by his paintings of seemingly pristine landscapes such as The Jack Pine (1916) and The West Wind (1917). The painting captures the intensity of logging in a provincial park that had already been widely clear cut in Thomson’s day. Industry, not untouched wilderness, was the primary shaper of the landscape Thomson painted and made famous. This painting also offers a lens through which other Group work–of mining settlements, and views made accessible by railway–are contextualized within the exhibition.

Thomson and Group of Seven paintings are complemented here by the work of historical and contemporary Indigenous and Canadian artists, including Sonny Assu, Christi Belcourt and Isaac Murdoch, Bob Boyer, Edward Burtynsky, Emily Carr, Bonnie Devine, Robert Houle, Stephen Hutchings, Isuma, Sarah Anne Johnson, Charles MacMunn, David Milne, Daphne Odjig, Kim Ondaatje, Kelly Richardson, Don Russell, Frank Shebageget, Gordon Smith, Peter von Tiesenhausen, Mary Wrinch, and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Documenting the effects of colonization and changing relationships to the land, their creative interventions speak to possibilities for ecological sustainability and environmental justice.

Curated by Shauna McCabe and Brian Meehan, The Drive is organized and circulated by The Art Gallery of Guelph with the support of the Department of Canadian Heritage.