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Women in the Landscape: An alternative view of a Canadian tradition (9 photos)

Five artists share 'alternative landscapes,' at Be Contemporary Gallery in Stroud

Canadians have always felt a strong connection to the country's landscape, as traditionally interpreted by male artists like the Group of Seven, and Tom Thomson.

Maybe it’s time for that to change, says Jeanette Luchese, owner and curator of be contemporary art gallery, with so many women in the arts providing new interpretations of a traditional subject.

The newest show at the gallery in Stroud, Innisfil, is titled ‘Women in the Landscape,’ featuring five female artists whose paintings and photographs provide an alternative view of Canada’s geography and natural world.

“I was thinking about the Group of Seven, and how men have dominated the landscape,” says Luchese. “All of these works are inspired by natural landscapes, but they are more an abstraction... Women doing not just landscape but an alternative, as not usually seen.”

The main gallery space is hung with paintings that include works by Cookstown artist Christina Luck, expressing a sense of theatre and stage design – including paintings of ‘Stage Trees’ executed on pine panels; and abstracts by Claudia Mandler McKnight, inspired by waterlilies and capturing a kind of "sensory" landscape.

Luminous and kinetic works by Joanne Lomas draw upon the landscape near Bon Echo Provincial Park, while the paintings of Metis artist Nathalie Bertin focus on a northern landscape, where pink granite suggests the flesh of Mother Earth, scarred yet alive.

Each artist has a different way of approaching landscape, says Luchese. “These are aspects of their work that captured more of their essence.”

The small BHCV gallery is home to a series of photographs by Teresa Cullen, titled “The Ephemeral Glimpse.”

The photos were all taken at Wasaga Beach, and combine heightened realism with a sense of the monumental: at first glimpse, it is difficult to tell if they are distant aerial views, or close-ups.

Cullen, who has been fascinated with the area since 2009, explains that she is attracted to the “intimate, continuously changing dynamic that occurs when the elements of water and earth meet at the shoreline,” where they create “mesmerizing displays of random compositions of light, colour, texture, form and line.”

No matter how different the styles, from hyper-realism to the abstract, or how different the media, “these are all considered landscape,” notes Luchese, and expand the definition of the word.

“Landscape is not just orientation. We’re not talking about just trees,” she says. “I’m bringing together artists that are utilizing landscape as their muse. Through their own style, they have pushed it further from the traditional landscape – a marriage of the inner landscape with the outer landscape.”

The exhibit continues at be contemporary gallery until July 31. The gallery, located at 7869 Yonge St. in Stroud, has reopened its doors, but COVID protocols continue, with social distancing and masks required.

The gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday, from noon to 5 p.m.; please book a time to visit at or call 705-431-4044.

Coming up: Following Women in the Landscape, the gallery presents Lush: Fabrications in Yarn and Fabric, featuring works by Marlene Hilton Price and Jill Price, Aug. 7 to Sept. 4. In the BHCV Gallery, 470 Days by Regina Williams. For more information, visit the gallery website by clicking here.