Group of Seven: Guitars

Grit Laskin’s guitar for artist F.H. Varley

The McMichael Canadian Collection is curating a fascinating music-and-art show for Canada’s 150th. The Group of Seven Guitar Project will exhibit masterwork guitars, commissioned from seven world-renowned Canadian guitar makers in homage to a particular Group of Seven member and Tom Thomson.

Linda Manzer’s ‘Lawren Harris’ guitar. (For more on the Group of Seven, see previous post on Canadian Art Junkie here)

Detail of the A.Y. Jackson guitar, Jean Larrivée

The luthiers (guitar makers) and their respective artists are: Linda Manzer (Lawren Harris), Sergi de Jonge (J.E.H. MacDonald), Tony Duggan-Smith (Arthur Lismer), David Wren (Franklin Carmichael), George Gray (Frank Johnston), Grit Laskin (F.H. Varley), and Jean Larrivée (A.Y. Jackson). The eighth guitar, inspired by Tom Thomson, will be a group effort by all 7 luthiers working together (Process shot, below)

George Gray, Sergei de Jonge, Linda Manzer

Along with the guitars, a special exhibition of masterworks by the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson “will prime viewers to make the connection between the talents of each artist and the guitars that they inspired,” the McMichael says.

There will also be a special “Acoustic Conversation” with each luthier and a musician, including a live performance with the guitar. Performers include Chris Hadfield, Jesse Cook, and Don Ross.  The project was coordinated by the McMichael in Kleinburg, Ontario.

9 replies »

  1. As one of the guitar makers participating who has spent the last few years percolating with my ‘Group of Seven’ painter, this is a very cool project with many perspectives to explore. Layers of varying disciplines communing with each other in a beautiful space. As an icon of popular culture, you can’t beat the guitar because it speaks just as fluently to anarchy as it does to conservatism and in these times we need just as much to listen as to preach. The arranged marriage of this group of friends from the past to those in the present has taught me a lot about creativity, legacy, history, character and effort. You get out what you put in. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did and dig deep yourselves, because there is plenty to discover.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your perspective Tony Duggan-Smith. As one of the luthiers for this exhibition, it must have been incredible to “percolate,” as you put it, on a painter like Arthur Lismer. I think many of us are blown away by the creativity of the concept, and I for one can’t wait to see it. Your point about the fluency of the guitar – and the need to listen – is well taken!


  2. And even more in the collaborative vein, there is a documentary film which will be shown demonstrating the making of the guitars, and as well as interviews with the builders.

    Liked by 1 person

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