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Discussion: Maps and Paintings

in: Orienteering; General

Feb 5, 2024 11:03 PM # 
A century ago, Canada’s Group of Seven artists began to capture
the raw beauty of the Canadian landscape in their paintings. In 1977, my parents set off on their own decades-long expedition in search of those painting locations immortalized by the Group of Seven.

Their hobby of looking at maps to find painting locations led to our family's interest in orienteering.

My parents have now found 800+ painting locations and written a book about this hobby that has sold over 15,000 copies (a Canadian best seller).

To celebrate their 80th birthdays and 45 years after finding their first painting lcoation, Brad Jennings of Explore the Backcountry (and one of Canada's top adventure racers) made a documentary film (~12 minutes long) following my parents as they paddled back to their first discovery (28km paddle plus 7km of portaging).

Paddle into Paintings of the Group of Seven Premieres this Wednesday evening on youtube.

Wed. Feb 7 (7pm eastern)

Film narrated by Emma Waddington (Cdn National team).

Join us on Wednesday evening.
Feb 6, 2024 1:21 AM # 
For those of you from outside Canada who may not be familiar with the Group of Seven know that they are about as important to Canadian identity as anything/ anyone can be. We learned about them in school. We followed their lives. We wonder about the mysterious death of their friend and colleague Tom Thompson and personally our family was thrilled when the son of one of their members and his family rented our recently -deceased grandparents' home for a year. Art was everywhere in the house!
Then along comes the Waddingtons' book. Not many Canadian orienteers do not have a copy, not just because we know the authors, photographers but because it is a really good piece of work and excellent portrayal of Canadian lanscape through the eyes of two media - painting and photography. Now this YouTube video will add a third eye. Count me in!
Feb 6, 2024 2:16 AM # 
This sounds really cool!
Feb 6, 2024 2:57 AM # 
Thanks Gord.

If you aren’t familiar with their hobby go to the 6:30 mark of this video and start watching
Feb 6, 2024 3:44 AM # 
I enjoyed this, thank you. I have a friend who admires the work of NZ landscape painter Grahame Sydney, and on an orienteering trip we had to go to "Boundary Rd". But he certainly hasnt been to 800 sites!
Feb 6, 2024 3:54 AM # 
This is on my calendar. What a wonderful 80th birthday gift!
Feb 6, 2024 4:38 AM # 
Hammer: wow, Sue and Jim introduced by Moses Znaimer at Idea City!
Feb 6, 2024 9:05 PM # 
Very cool!
Feb 6, 2024 9:10 PM # 
Great idea by Sue and great presentation by Jim.
I´ve known about their work for a number of years by now so it was very interesting to learn more.
Feb 8, 2024 12:23 AM # 
Nice video. If they ever make a movie about the younger Sue and Jim they can play themselves. No aging there.
Feb 8, 2024 12:31 AM # 
My Mom says thanks Gord
Feb 8, 2024 3:28 AM # 
The film was wonderful. :)
Feb 8, 2024 4:13 AM # 
Nice to make the connection, as I never knew Jim and Sue were Mike's parents being still fairly new to orienteering, but I'm a longtime canoeist. Jeff and I were talking years ago about the whitewater Agawa trip when it was still in the planning stages. He and I had connected because I have a love for all the whitewater rivers in that area and a love for the Group of Seven works.
Your parents have left a legacy that enriches the works of the Group of Seven.
Feb 9, 2024 9:14 PM # 
For those who missed it
Feb 9, 2024 9:46 PM # 
also the book is "In the Footsteps of the Group of Seven" by Sue and Jim Waddington
Feb 10, 2024 12:14 AM # 
Feb 10, 2024 2:33 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
The youtube video was very nice, I am seriously impressed by any 80-year old capable of that paddle+portage:
They must have both been living right (that's a given with orienteers, right?), and have inherited some very good genes.

BTW, here in Norway we have a similar set of landscape artists who more or less defined our national self-image, it started with I.C.Dahl, then was taken up by the likes of Tidemann & Gude and Harald Sohlberg.
Feb 11, 2024 8:53 PM # 
Inspiring video, especially the overhead canoe carry!

@Terje Mathisen There is a strong connection between the Group of Seven and these artists you mention. In 1913 Lawren Harris and J E H Macdonald traveled to Buffalo NY to see the Exhibition of Contemporary Scandinavian Art . It has been said that one of Lawren Harris' most well known paintings "Bylot Island", was influenced by a Harald Sohlberg's painting "Mountains, Winter landscape"
Feb 11, 2024 9:46 PM # 
Really enjoyable video, and what a grand adventure! A great idea and excellent execution.
Feb 12, 2024 2:39 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@bchubb: That's a connection between Norway and Canada I would never have guessed existed! :-)
Feb 18, 2024 7:00 PM # 
Sue's idea way back in 1977 changed our lives. She suggested we make that canoe trip to find the location of one of AY Jackson's paintings. We had started orienteering but were novices. We had to learn more. It became the sport of choice for the family. It turned out that navigating in a canoe was a great way to learn how to visualize what you see on a map.
It was great fun to go back to that first place. As AG said in the video, we have found dozens of painting sites along the route- AY Jackson. Franklin Carmichael, AJ Casson and even several by Frederick Banting. (Yes, that Banting.)
It was nice that bchubb brought up the connection with the Scandinavian artists. The year after we found the first site, 1978, we lived in Bergen, Norway for a year. That year cemented the family love of orienteering.
Thanks everyone.
Feb 18, 2024 8:17 PM # 
Terje Mathisen:
@GHOSLO: So Bergen 1978-79? At that time I was at NTH in Trondheim, just like my father had been 1952-57: "Orienter i NTHI, bli på si!" ("Orienteer in NTHI, become a civil engineer on the side") was the motto of the university orienteering club.)
My mother is from Bergen so I have spent a lot of summer vacations there, the company I worked for (Hydro) for 26 years had a big office there and more recently both our kids went to NHH i Bergen so I've been back quite a few times, but very rarely for orienteering. :-(
Feb 18, 2024 8:33 PM # 
Yes 1978-79. I competed almost every week against 25 to 30 H35 s. Was always last. Got very discouraged then found out that almost everyone else had been orienteering for 25 years.!
Feb 21, 2024 3:03 PM # 
Back to landscape painting.
Many years ago, when the family would make the yearly drive to West Point in the spring, I decided to extend our hobby and we made an unsuccessful attempt at finding a painting site of a member of the Hudson Valley School. Those artists made many landscape paintings of views that I thought should be recognizable. Our brief search one afternoon after an O meet found us in a thick forest with no view of the river. Too bad.
I just did a Google search, and found that now many of the old painting sites have been found, and you can see the views online. :-)
Feb 21, 2024 8:24 PM # 
Thanks for sharing this video, it's a really beautiful story. Inspirational in the truest sense - it has me dreaming of setting out on similar adventures. I was not familiar with the Group of Seven either, so it's also great to be introduced to these beautiful pieces of art.
Feb 21, 2024 11:20 PM # 
@bchubb: That exhibition in 1913 was held at the Albright Art Gallery in Buffalo, later the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and now the Buffalo AKG Art Museum. The Buffalo Orienteering Club has approached the AKG in hopes they will partner with us in staging a couple of sprints in the neighboring campus and park in 2025.
Feb 22, 2024 5:10 AM # 
Yes, and this is what he said about it
"MacDonald and I discussed the possibility of an art expression which should embody the varied moods, character and spirit of this country. We heard there was an exhibition of modern Scandinavian paintings at the Albright Gallery in Buffalo - and took the train over to Buffalo to see it. This turned out to be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences either of us had. Here was a large number of paintings which corroborated our ideas. Here were paintings of northern lands created in the spirit of those lands and through the hearts and minds of those who knew and loved them. Here was an art bold, vigorous and uncompromising, embodying direct, first-hand experience of the great North. As a result of that experience our enthusiasm increased, and our conviction was reinforced."
MacDonald is JEH MacDonald

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