Monday, April 18, 2016

Killbear Pine: The Canadian Wilderness

Quilt No. 110
March 2016

This year the quilt guild I belong to decided that we were suffering from an embarrassment of riches. It was time to spend like drunken sailors, but instead of cases of rum our plunder would be quilting workshops.  And we wouldn’t go to the workshops, we would have them come to us.  Such is the power that can be wielded when the membership fees finally exceed the expenses.   

For part of our spree we brought in quilter/designer Joni Newman. Her simplified stained glass technique lends itself beautifully to the creation of quilts that capture the Canadian wilderness in a style that is reminiscent of The Group of Seven. 

I remember learning about The Group of Seven in high school art class.  Well…I sort of remember.  When I did a little neuronal fact checking, the bits at my disposal included that there were seven of them and they were artists.  Trees and rocks were involved - especially lonely singleton trees clamped onto rocky shorelines. Tom Thompson came to mind.  I was definitely a little fact impaired. 

Looking to round out my knowledge, I discovered that most of what I knew was incorrect.  While The Group of Seven started off with seven members, they actually ended up with more than seven.  No one thought to change the group name.  They were officially active from 1920-1933, and while Tom Thompson was a major stylistic influence, he was never a member, having passed away in 1917.  And yet we still associate his iconic painting, The Jack Pine, with the Group of Seven.  In essence, their most famous, representative painting was done by a non-member.  It doesn’t get any more Canadian than that.
The Jack Pine/Tom Thompson 1917

Believing that a distinct Canadian art could be developed through direct contact with nature, the Group was best known for their paintings of the Canadian landscape. Over eighty years later we still adore their paintings and I still yell “Group of Seven!” whenever I spot a lone gnarly pine tree against a backdrop of granite.

I was able to add my own touch to Joni’s Killbear Pine design by pillaging my stash and using some of the blue fabrics I’d previously dyed.  The particular design is based on the scenery of Killbear Provincial Park, located on the Georgian bay shoreline of Lake Huron, part of Ontario’s Great Lakes. 

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