In Conversation with the Group of Seven

From left side to right side: Fred Varley, A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris,
Barker Johnston (not a part of the Group of Seven), Frank Johnston,
Arthur Lismer and J.E.H. MacDonald
In 1920, seven distinct and individual artists came together to discuss art in Canada and paint. Then they were known as Lawren Harris, J.E.H MacDonald, Franklin Carmichael, A.J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, A.Y. Jackson and the honourable member Tom Thomson, but with the insight of Lawren Harris and J.E.H MacDonald became the group now known as the Group of Seven. Who as a group were determined to change the art scene in Canada, showcasing their own take on Canadian landscape leading the way for future artists in Canada. For this we thank them, and have the rare opportunity to understand the inspiration behind their works. (J.E.H MacDonald representing the Group of 7).

Question: So tell me fellows how did you become a group from individual artists into the Group of 7?

Answer: Really, it was Lawren (Harris)'s idea to gather us as a collective in the beginning. Originally part of another larger group known as the Canada Letters and Arts club the two of us decided to branch off and look for other artists who wanted to explore a more distinctive style of Canadian art.

Question: Previous to your group's style, what was the pulse of art in Canada?

Answer: Well, sadly it was not a very Canadian style at all. Before our introduction and first exhibit, the art scene was "dominated by a European outlook. The whole environment of the Canadian artist was that of a European or English one.

Question: Knowing this how did it affect your groups direction, and purpose?

Answer: Generally, most of us being born in Canada we were displeased with the direction it was going. To be showcasing art in Canada that in no way resembled anything like a Canadian scene was off-putting and thusly we felt it didn't represent Canada in the least. So it made us determined to change that.

the Jack Pine, done by Tom Thomson
Question: I understand that when your group first arrived in the art scene on Canada, you were not greeted with a warm welcome how did this affect the group?

Answer: As a group we marched on. It wasn't easy when you have folks leave your exhibition and categorizing what we worked so hard to put together as art from the "hot mush school" and our paintings being dismissed as "products of deranged minds" because of how different we were.

Question: And finally, who or what inspired the group to explore Canada's North, as many paintings showcase that area?

Answer: That would be Tom (Thomson) himself. Born and raised as an outdoors and explorer he would go on these great hunting and fishing excursions coming back with the catch of the day and great excitement over the next great location for our painting excursions. Really without Tom (Thomson) we wouldn't be the Group of Seven we are today, as he provided us with countless inspiration and retreats to the Canadian north.

Interviewer: Well, I thank-you for your time and insights into your inspiration. As well Canada thanks you for the art, which can be seen at the McMichael Art Gallery.
Images: Courtesy of Google search and Wikipedia Commons. Group of Seven portrait: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d8/Group-of-seven-artists.jpg

Jack Pine Picture: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d0/The_Jack_Pine,_by_Tom_Thomson.jpg/300px-The_Jack_Pine,_by_Tom_Thomson.jpg

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