Dulwich Picture Gallery has announced the first commission of a Canadian Artist in Residence, to coincide with the exhibition Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven. 

There was a strong shortlist of three excellent Canadian artists and Liz Charsley-Jory was appointed to the year-long position.

The role involves working with adults and young people who enrol on the Gallery’s Public Programmes, with schools, with Urban Youth on city estates, with the elderly and on a variety of city Reach-Out programmes for which Dulwich Picture Gallery is famous. This residency is a rare opportunity for the artist to advance their practice and to celebrate and promote the work of Canadian art.  Previous resident artists include Michael Kenny RA, Humphrey Ocean RA, Eileen Cooper RA, Graham Crowley and Hurvin Anderson.  After the residency the artist will have shows of their own work at Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Liz Charsley-Jory has long admired the work of the Group of Seven, having first visited the McMichael Collection as a child growing up in Ontario.  Her grandmother took painting lessons from Arthur Lismer in Montreal, where she was born, and received demonstration sketches and paintings from him.  These hung on the walls of her grandparents’ house alongside works by other Canadian artists they knew personally – John Koerner, Joe Plaskett, Molly Lamb Bobak – all of whom celebrate Canadian art.  This early indoctrination of Canadian art, and her upbringing on the west coast of Canada gave Liz ample opportunity to immerse herself in pristine landscapes, almost exactly as those viewed by the Group of Seven.  This well qualifies Liz to interpret their works in a teaching role.

Liz moved to London after graduating from the University of Victoria in Fine Art and Theatre.  She completed an MA in Drawing at Camberwell College of Art and joined the South London Women Artists on their Steering Group.  She teaches and leads workshops as part of the visiting artist programme that she helped establish.  She has taught art history and is currently mounting a group exhibition of work by contributing visiting artists.

Liz said, “I am looking forward immensely to working with Dulwich Picture Gallery to celebrate and promote Canadian art and culture during and beyond the Group of Seven exhibition. I cannot think of a more enjoyable task than producing a body of work in connection with these vibrant landscapes. People are always astounded by the beauty of western Canada that I capture photographically, and I anticipate a similar response from the Gallery visitors when they see this exhibition.”

Gillian Wolfe CBE, Director of Learning and Public Affairs, said: “We appointed a Canadian artist who currently exhibits and teaches in London, whose art resonated most powerfully and appropriately with the forthcoming Painting Canada exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery.   Liz Charsley-Jory’s work has a palpable Canadian flavour, she has wide experience of teaching across age ranges and she most closely matches the brief agreed with our Canadian Friends Board. We are delighted with this appointment which will enhance and enrich the gallery throughout and beyond this exhibition.”

As part of her residency, Liz’s first Schools project will be with Ditcham Park School on 9 November.  Fifteen students will see the just-opened exhibition Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, before taking a workshop with Liz.  Provided with a psychological insight into the meaning of Canadian landscape to artists, the participants will be encouraged to creatively convey personal connections with their own surrounding urban landscapes with interesting outcomes.

The post runs from October 2011 to September 2012. The Canadian Artist in Residence at Dulwich Picture Gallery is generously supported by the Canada House Arts Trust and the Canadian Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery.