Finding London painters in London
Stephen Borys, Director & CEO, exhibition curator
Driving on the 401 Highway to London to see director Brian Meehan at the Museum London to discuss the 100 Masters project, I thought about the well-known paintings by Jack Chambers of the 401, knowing that I would be seeing an unrivalled representation of his work in London. But instead of choosing one of the highway images (one of the best of which is actually in the Art Gallery of Ontario), I chose a work that Brian had recommended, entitled Mums. The still life with interior was painted in 1968, the same year Chambers painted the 401 Towards London.
As a child, I recall a large picture of yellow chrysanthemums painted by my mother, and seeing the London still life took me right back to that time. Turning to the nineteenth-century collection, I wanted to include one of Paul Peel’s academic paintings, and with Brian’s assistance I chose the iconic The Modest Model, although Covent Garden Market, London was a close second. Visiting London, the two other local artists whose work demanded attention were Paterson Ewen and Greg Curnoe. After looking at several paintings by the artists, I chose Paterson Ewen’s Shipwreck, painted a century after the Peel work, and Greg Curnoe’s The True North Strong and Free, which completed the quartet of London artists to be represented in the WAG exhibition. Heading off to Toronto, it was particularly gratifying to know that from the Museum London I would be borrowing four outstanding works, all by artists who had lived and worked in London.
Jack Chambers, Canadian, 1931-1978, Mums, 1968-1971, Oil on wood, 244 cm x 121.9 cm. Purchased with funds provided by the Volunteer Committee and other generous donors, 1993, 93.A.106. Photo credit: Linda Louwagie-Neyens. Lent by: Museum London, London