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Artwork Wednesday: Yukon Designs at the Canada House in London

Artwork Wednesday: Yukon Designs at the Canada House in London

The exterior façade of Canada House in London. Photo: Creative Matters Inc.

On February 19, 2015, the Canadian High Commission in London, England welcomed Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh to officially unveil the newly re-furbished and expanded building, containing artwork from across Canada and many pieces by Yukon artists!  This historic building in the Greek Revival style is located on prime real-estate at one of the corners of Trafalgar square, dead-centre in the city of London. 

The Canadian High Commission serves not only as diplomatic site for Canadians, but also as one of the largest showcases of Canadian art outside of our country.  Canadian High Commissioner Gordon Campbell spoke with the Globe and Mail on the mission of the Canada House, saying "We want to show Canada, not tell Canada. The vast array of Canadian talent is clear here".(1)  


Indeed, Canada House makes a point for inclusivity, displaying Canadian artwork and craft from sea to sea to sea, including 16 rooms each dedicated to a respective province, territory or ocean. This grand interior houses Canadian-made furniture and artwork in every room, a rooftop terrace with a living green wall and beehives, and a spectacular collection of 29 hand tufted area rugs designed by Canadian artists.


A rug based on a painting by artist LessLIE, is showcased in the British Columbia meeting room at Canada House in London. Photo: Ben Blossom Photo

This series of rugs, commissioned to the rug design company Creative Matters Inc. of Toronto, Ontario, was recently unveiled at the official re-opening of Canada House in February. The series was curated through a competition coordinated by the Canadian Federal Government. Sixteen contemporary Canadian artists working in a range of styles and mediums, from oil painting to mixed media to photography, were chosen to represent their respective provinces or territories.


Joyce Majiski, Swans. Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development


Local printmaker, sculptor and biologist Joyce Majiski’s design was selected as the one to represent the Yukon in a dedicated Yukon Room at Canada House.


Majiski’s mixed-media artwork depicts swans resting on a lake during migration season, a celebration of our northern wildlife. “It’s a real honour to be representing my part of the north, my part of the country. It’s unbelievably humbling to be selected,” said Majiski.(2)


The Yukon Meeting Room at Canada House (note the area rug designed by Joyce Majiski and wall-mounted carving by Ken Anderson). Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development


From Majiski`s original artwork, an area rug made entirely of wool was hand tufted using 29 colours and 55 blended strands of wool- a very complex design.


The Hand-tufting process. Photo: Creative Matters Inc.


Carol Sebert, founder and president of Creative Matters Inc. spoke with The Star about her experience with the commission, saying  "These were the most complicated rugs we've ever worked on. And it`s definitely the biggest honour".(3)   This is quite the statement, seeing as this 25 year company has designed rugs for over 30 diplomatic regions around the world! The challenge, said Sebert, was creating the 'painterly effect' on the carpets. "Rather than specify one colour of wool, we create custom colour blends by mixing different strands such as that for the carpet for the Pacific Room which required 32 different colours and 37 colour blends".(4)


Duran Henry, Self- Portrait Mask. Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development


Other Yukon artists to be featured at Canada House include First Nations artists Ken Anderson, Mark Preston and carvers Duran Henry and Jacob Harris Blanchard. Anderson created two sculptures for the House, while the two latter artists created carved masks. 


Ken Anderson, First Killer Whale, birch with acrylic paint. Photo: Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development

Jane Isakson, Change, Break the Chain, Acrylic on Canvas, 53 x 53"

Yukon art can be found throughout Canada house, and is not restricted to the Yukon Room. Whitehorse based artist Jane Isakson's beautiful painting of migrating caribou 'Change, Break the Chain' is located on the first floor of the Queen Elizabeth Atrium. A highly stylized entry table designed through collaboration between Northern First Nations artists using black walnut, red cedar, glass and bronze features the designs of Whitehorse based Mark Preston (Check out the photo here!). 

Other great Yukon representation at Canada House includes a contribution of stone for three table tops supplied by Whitehorse based company Sidrock. The ore of the stone is so bright and dazzling that it appears fluorescent. “If you take a shortwave UV light and put it over it in the dark, it lights up like the Milky Way in the night sky,” said Sidrock owner Sid McKeown.(5)

We are thrilled to see these successful Yukon artists represent their work at Canada House in London. The Canadian High Commission is infinitely richer with such gorgeous artwork from the Yukon included in their Canadian permanent art collection. 

 

Footnotes: 

(1) Himelfarb, Ellen. "The Art of Decorating Canada House." The Globe and Mail. February 22, 2015. Accessed March 4, 2015. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-art-of-decorating-canada-house/article23145857/

(2) Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. “YUKON ART AND STONE FIND A HOME IN LONDON’S TRAFALGAR SQUARE” n.d.

(3) Gordon, Andrea. "Toronto Firm Transforms Canadian Paintings into Carpets for London’s Canada House | Toronto Star." Thestar.com. February 19, 2015. Accessed March 4, 2015. http://www.thestar.com/life/2015/02/19/toronto-firm-transforms-canadian-paintings-into-carpets-for-londons-canada-house.html

(4) Ferreras, Jesse. "Canada House's Floors Are Basically An Art Gallery." The Huffington Post. February 20, 2015. Accessed March 4, 2015. http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2015/02/20/canada-house-renovation-carpets-canadian-art_n_6716842.html

(5) Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. “YUKON ART AND STONE FIND A HOME IN LONDON’S TRAFALGAR SQUARE” n.d.

Meet the artist: Jane Isakson

Meet the artist: Jane Isakson

Born and raised in Alberta, Isakson left the sporting arena for the fine arts after representing Canada in two Olympic Games, (1992 and 1994) in the sport of Biathlon.  Completing her Fine Arts Degree at the University of Alberta, Isakson moved north to Whitehorse, where she has developed a painting practice that is rooted in the northern landscape that surrounds her.

Isakson’s exhibition “From the Outer Edges” is currently showing in YAC’s gallery until February 22nd, 2014.

1) What is the best/worst thing about being an artist?

The best thing about being an artist is the freedom to make your own schedule;  the hardest thing about being an artist is having no fixed schedule to follow.

2) How has your practice changed over time?

I began painting the landscape in a very straight forward manner - not particularly realistically, perhaps in a more expressionist manner, but gradually the paintings became more symbolic, looking to express more than the surface of the landscape.

3) Who are your favourite artists?

There are lots of artists that I admire, some of my favourites are Cezanne, Bonnard, Emily Carr, and John Koerner.

4) What are you working on now?

I participated in a three week residency on a tall ship in the Arctic Archepeligo of Spitzberben (Svalbard) this fall, and am currently at the Banff Centre for the Arts working on a body of work based on this experience.

For more information regarding the artist and her work, please visit her website