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The Good Lands: Canada Through the Eyes of Artists

On my latest trip to Montreal, I discovered a book at the Musee du Beaux Arts gift shop called The Good Lands: Canada Through the Eyes of Artists. written by Victoria Dickenson. From the moment I opened it, I couldn’t put it down. It was like a fresh wind was blowing through my knowledge of Canadian art, past and present. This book was put together for Canada’s 150th year to recognize this new era we have entered where “we have begun share in a process of reconciliation”, coming together “to reimagine our contribution to a global future.”

The short overview inside the front cover states,”Artists give form and meaning to both the land and the invisible landscape of the spirit, both the past and the future. The works of Canada’s artists - Indigenous and non-Indigenous, historical and contemporary - invite us to see our country and our place within it with new eyes.”

There are essays by a number of Indigenous writers and artists who share a fresh perspective, quotes by poets and a tremendous selection of photography, paintings, prints and drawings - many works I have never, or rarely seen in other books or galleries. The colour reproductions are gorgeous, and the book design accessible - with lots of space.

Many years ago I came across the reproduction of a Canadian painting in an art book. The painter was Ozias Leduc (1864-1955). The painting, Mauve Twilight, 1921, struck a chord in me. It was one of those magical moments. When I was flipping through The Good Lands in the gift shop, one of the first pages I landed on was Mauve Twilight. I have only ever seen it in books twice. I would love to see the original and have added to my ‘to do’ list. 

We should all be curious and interested in re-shaping previous impressions and learned knowledge of Canadian art, both contemporary and historical from a place of reconciliation. It will make us more complete, more open and more compassionate as Canadians.      ~ Jennifer Noxon                                       

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