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Black Cherry, Hwy 3 near Lyndoche, Robert Achtemichuk, 2017

The Cantelon Trail
Robert Achtemichuk, Gary Blundell, Sally Gable, Jim Jackson and Victoria Ward

November 17, 2017 – January 27, 2018
Opening reception with talk by Guest Curator, Helen Bartens
Friday, November 17 at 7:00 pm

The Cantelon Trail is a joint project between the Norfolk Arts Centre (NAC) and the Norfolk Historical Society (NHS) bringing together history and art, a sense of place and community. William Edgar Cantelon (1866-1950) devoted a great part of his life to painting the historical buildings, personalities, landscapes, and scenes of Norfolk County. Over 400 of Cantelon’s artworks are in the collection of the Eva Brook Donly Museum & Archives. These pieces visually reference Norfolk County's history.

The Cantelon Trail brings together 5 project artists – Robert Achtemichuk, Gary Blundell, Sally Gable, Jim Jackson and Victoria Ward – to examine the collection of W.E. Cantelon paintings, drawings, and archives at EBD. These artists will present new work that responds to their individual research and contemplation of the paintings of William Edgar Cantelon.


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John Backus Flour Mill, W. Edgar Cantelon

Of the project artist Robert Achtemichuk states: “Edgar Cantelon documented places and people and his meticulous paintings give us a detailed visual history of Norfolk County. I find an affinity with Cantelon’s paintings of the roadside houses and mills with trees. I like his picket fences. […]

This project gave me the opportunity to visit the famed Carolinian forests of Norfolk. I experienced the reforestation started by (Edmund) Zavitz in the last century. Trees were given to anyone who would plant and care for them. […] I painted a few of these older survivors as tree portraits, as individuals, and as groups, documenting the passage of time.

My work is about evoking the presence of trees - the light, the time of day; the wind, the weather, the season - what am I experiencing at the moment of painting. […] Working with memory or in plein air has brought me a poetic understanding of the painting experience. We all have memories of common experiences, and I try to use these memories to make my paintings.”

Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward conducted research on Cantelon during a week-long residency in Norfolk County. Landscape painters interested in how industry and the landscape become interwoven - transforming and shaping human destiny, Blundell and Ward revisited many of Cantelon’s favourite locations to consider their present day state.

“Norfolk County is a landscape in a constant cycle of change. As a farming area, every season brings with it a different look to the land. But as a significant historical area full of shipwreck lore, bootlegging, war, deforestation and reforestation, it has tales to tell underneath overgrown hollows and shorelines. Striking to us was the incessant industrial presence; power plant on the lakeshore, wind turbines across the County. […]

The work we did for the exhibition truly centered on what we found. We visited many places where Cantelon set up his easel and painted. Most of these were bucolic waterways that had once been the location of a mill many, many generations ago. We looked around and saw what had become of Cantelon’s “places” in the 21st century. He seems to have been driven to document the area and to sell paintings. Since our motivation was not remotely like his and far more intellectually distant (we were visitors, not inhabitants), we felt that we would need to cling to our way of doing things and fold them into the experience of being immersed in present day and historical Norfolk County. Ships, buildings, the alligator tug, patterned wetlands, and artifacts in museums became a ‘topology’; a network of anomalous things and places that fit into the narrative we walked through.”

Artists, Sally Gable and Jim Jackson grew up in Norfolk County experiencing the agricultural transformation of Cantelon’s Norfolk. Gable’s soft water colour sketches study the social intersections of churches, taverns, streets and shops which document the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century in Simcoe, Vittoria and Port Dover. Unlike Cantelon’s scenes of prosaic buildings, Gable takes us into present day locations where people gather for prayer, friendship or commerce. Side by side, Cantelon’s images with Gable’s figurative studies describe the continuation of social rituals played out in public spaces. A self-taught artist, Jim Jackson paints from his immediate surroundings of farm, home and family. Unlike the stiff formal Cantelon portraits of wealthy landowners, military personnel or politicians, Jim’s portraits will contrast the privileged relationship between the portrait sitter or patron and the artist. Jim’s highly rendered portraits of relatives and labourers contrast with Cantelon’s portraits of Norfolk’s upper class.

Members of the Norfolk Photography Club will also present a series of photographs that documents Cantelon’s Norfolk as it exists today. Through this process the artists will follow in Cantelon's footsteps, engaging in an exploration of Norfolk County's past and present, and reflecting on the meaning of place.

The Norfolk Historical Society acknowledge the financial support of the Ontario Arts Council. Robert Achtemichuk, Gary Blundell and Victoria Ward acknowledge the support of the Ontario Arts Council’s Exhibition Assistance program.

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The Cantelon Trail Speakers Series

Friday, December 1 at 7:00 pm
Norfolk Arts Centre

Andy Blackwood, President of the Norfolk Historical Society will present The History and Future of the Norfolk Historical Society

Wednesday, January 10 at 7:00 pm
Norfolk Arts Centre

Local researcher and cycling enthusiast Robert Luke will speak about the history of cycling in Norfolk County.

Friday, January 26 at 7:00 pm
Norfolk Arts Centre

The Cantelon Trail project artists – Robert Achtemichuk, Gary Blundell, Sally Gable, Jim Jackson and Victoria Ward – will present a series of lightening talks. Hear what stirred this group of artists in the work of William Edgar Cantelon.


For further information about The Cantelon Trail project, please contact:

Deirdre Chisholm
Director / Curator
Norfolk Arts Centre
21 Lynnwood Avenue
Simcoe ON N3Y 2V7
519-428-0540 x 2356
norfolkartscentre@norfolkcounty.ca

3393

 

 

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