The Beaverbrook Art Gallery celebrates Mount Allison and its artists

The Beaverbrook Art Gallery highlights the work of artists associated with the province’s premier arts program.

The gallery has opened a permanent exhibition highlighting the work of former students and faculty of Mount Allison’s arts program.

The University of Sackville has had a fine arts program of some form since 1854.

Artists associated with Mount A include Canadian luminaries such as Alex Colville, Mary Pratt, Christopher Pratt and Tom Forrestall.

The exhibition features artworks by Christopher and Mary Pratt. (Submitted by Beaverbrook Art Gallery)

John Leroux, director of the gallery’s collections and exhibitions, said the Beaverbook’s Atlantic Gallery has often featured the work of artists associated with Mount Allison, but it’s also important to show how important the university is to the arts scene of Mount Allison New Brunswick is.

“It tells an important story and the works are great,” said Leroux.

“It’s this wonderful little shrine to one of Canada’s most important artistic hubs, and we feel truly privileged to be a part of it.”

acquisition

The new exhibition includes a new acquisition by the gallery of what Leroux calls one of Canada’s most important post-war paintings.

communion table was painted in 1969 by Fredericton-born Mary Pratt.

The painting shows a typical scene of a dinner table, after the meal, with dishes, spice bottles and leftovers.

The Supper Table, painted by Mary Pratt in 1969, is the cornerstone of the new exhibition. (Submitted by Beaverbrook Art Gallery)

While the subject of the painting may be mundane, the lighting and vibrant colors bring the piece to life.

The painting was made from a slide of the scene taken by Pratt’s partner Christopher Pratt.

“It’s actually the first painting she did where she started working from a slide,” Leroux said.

“She was able to achieve that instantaneous moment where light passed through materials.”

Hidden Treasures

The exhibition also includes lesser-known works by famous artists.

Leroux points to a flower painting by Christian McKiel that “nobody has really ever seen before.”

There are also works that art lovers will question what they think they know about famous artists, like the sculptures by Tom Forrestall, known for his realistic paintings.

“In the late 1960s he made a series of very abstract sculptures in welded steel and aluminum with crowds and scenes,” said Leroux.

“It’s a part of Tom Forestell that’s almost an antithesis to the work he’s known for.”

Works by Tom Forestell, a Nova Scotia artist who visited Mount Allison in the 1950s. (Submitted by Beaverbrook Art Gallery)

The exhibit isn’t the only project the art gallery has in mind to celebrate Mount Allison’s art program.

Leroux said the gallery is working on an art book and a traveling exhibition to showcase the work of artists associated with the university.

“We are working on that in the very first initial phase,” said Leroux.

“[It’s] Celebrating a truly important history of visual arts in New Brunswick, spanning 150 years.”

Lerouix said the gallery is targeting 2025 or 2026 for the book and touring exhibition.

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