Ahoy, ahoy!

In lecture today, Gemey moved us forward to art created during the “contact” era of Canada.  This was a very interesting time in Canadian history, some good and some bad.  Primarily, our focus was on landscape paintings created mostly by military men from Great Britain.  The purpose of these paintings was to send them home to Britain to show others what the new world looked like, and also, in some cases, to demonstrate that it was a civilised place, not full of heathens or savages.  In this way, the superiority of British rule and the ability of the British influence to “civilise” the natives was effectively portrayed.

One thing Gemey said in lecture really stuck with me.  She said it was strange that these first representations other people saw of Canada were created by people who did not have a true connection with what they were painting.  The painters were the “other”, the artists were the foreign ones, painting this landscape the way they would paint one of their homeland.  Even the weather and climate that would be present in England was transferred over to these landscape paintings of Canada.  The only painting we looked at that seemed to have a sense of the landscape being “home” not just a view was one by Joseph Bouchette.

There are two things about this that I find interesting.  First of all, Joseph Bouchette was a French Canadian, not an English Canadian.  Secondly, he was a surveyor and played a very active role in defining the boundary between the United States and Canada.  To me, this seems like he may have actually identified more with being part of Canada, as he took an active interest in the topography and naturalism of our country.

Is a painting more authentic when it is undertaken by a person who is Native to that area?  Would someone from Saskatchewan produce a more realistic view of a rolling wheat field than someone who is used to the craggy rockfaces and seaside cliffs of Newfoundland?  When we look at landscape pictures, it would seem that it is important to know the background of the artist, before being able to evaluate it’s effectiveness and authenticity.  Before pondering over this prospect, I have to admit that I’ve almost always been inclined to appreciate the beauty of a landscape painting or be impressed by accurate detailing, but they have never actually intrigued me as a genre of works that is actually trying to say something rather than to just depict. I like this newfound concept and hope to explore it more throughout the course.

As a last note, I came across something rather amusing in The Argosy, Mount Allison’s student run newspaper.  In the Humour section this week, there was a list entitled “Top Ten Signs You and Your Roommate Aren’t Compatible”.  Number seven was “You’re in Fine Arts, and they major in Bio-Chem”.  Now readers, I understand this is a joke article but I just think this is ironic.  Here is a picture of two of my best friends (and roommates):

The Incompatible Roommates?

On the left, you have Liz, a Fine Arts student, and on the right you have Fiona, a Bio-chem major.  Roommates and fantastic friends, I’d have to say they are the farthest I’ve ever seen from incompatible 😉

That’s all for now!

-Brit

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