War Museum features Canadian Forces Artists Program exhibit

Artwork created within the Canadian Forces Artists Program.
The exhibition will be on display until April 2 at the War Museum’s Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Gallery.

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The Canadian War Museum has launched an exhibition featuring works by civilian artists chosen to deploy with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) in Canada and around the world.

The Canadian Forces Artists Program – Group 7 is a collection created by the most recent group of artists who deployed with CAF members domestically and internationally. It is the first in a series of biennial exhibitions.

The Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP) was established by the Department of National Defence (DND) in 2001. Every two years, an advisory committee selects a group of professional civilian artists from various Canadian regions to observe the activities of the Canadian Armed Forces. Through their artistic creations, the artists contribute to the understanding of our military history.

The artists maintain complete artistic independence as they capture the daily operations, personnel and spirit of the CAF, as well as the families and communities affected by Canadian military operations.

The program continues the tradition of war art that has engaged Canadian artists since the First World War. In 1916, Lord Beaverbrook (Max Aiken), an expatriate Canadian newspaper baron and British Member of Parliament, created the Canadian War Memorials Fund. He commissioned artists to depict the Canadian war effort on the battlefield, behind the front lines and on the home front.

The first program produced nearly 1000 works by more than 100 artists, including future Group of Seven members A. Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer and Frederick Varley.

During the Second World War, DND organized a similar war art program that engaged 32 established artists including Molly Lamb Bobak, Alex Colville, Charles Comfort and Pegi Nicol MacLeod.

These works are now part of the Canadian War Museum’s Beaverbrook Collection of War Art, one of the largest of its kind in the world. The collection comprises over 14 000 pieces, including works by past CFAP artists.

“The Canadian Forces Artists Program offers a unique perspective on the contemporary history of the Canadian Armed Forces,” said Stephen Quick, Director General of the War Museum. “As Canada’s national museum of military history, we are honoured to present the extraordinary works generated by this important initiative.”

The exhibition will be on display until April 2 at the War Museum’s Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae Gallery.

Image gallery

  • Artwork created within the Canadian Forces Artists Program.

  • Skeptic, by Richard Johnson, 2015. Prismacolor pencil on brown kraft paper. Collection of the Artist.Skeptic, by Richard Johnson, 2015. Prismacolor pencil on brown kraft paper. Collection of the Artist.
  • Artwork created within the Canadian Forces Artists Program.

  • Night and Day, by Nancy Cole, 2016. Quilted textile. Collection of the Artist.Night and Day, by Nancy Cole, 2016. Quilted textile. Collection of the Artist.
  • Artwork created within the Canadian Forces Artists Program.

  • Hard Rain by Mark Thompson, 2017. Cast glass, looped projection, metal brackets.Hard Rain by Mark Thompson, 2017. Cast glass, looped projection, metal brackets.
  • Artwork created within the Canadian Forces Artists Program.

  • Ready to Leave, San Diego, CA. Leading Seaman Stephanie Nicol, Mess Clerk, Victoria, BC, by Kathryn Mussallem, 2016. Archival pigment print. Collection of the Artist.Ready to Leave, San Diego, CA. Leading Seaman Stephanie Nicol, Mess Clerk, Victoria, BC, by Kathryn Mussallem, 2016. Archival pigment print. Collection of the Artist.
  • Artwork created within the Canadian Forces Artists Program.

  • Ship’s Wake, # (1-16), 2016–2017 by Ivan Murphy. Oil on wood panel. Collection of the Artist.Ship’s Wake, # (1-16), 2016–2017 by Ivan Murphy. Oil on wood panel. Collection of the Artist.
  • Artwork created within the Canadian Forces Artists Program.

  • Cryosol series #37, from Cryosol series, 2015, by Guy Lavigueur. Pigment print on archival paper. Courtesy of Galerie La Castiglione, Montréal.Cryosol series #37, from Cryosol series, 2015, by Guy Lavigueur. Pigment print on archival paper. Courtesy of Galerie La Castiglione, Montréal.
  • A group of military students in class.

  • Day One, July 2015 by Erin Riley. Colour photograph. Collection of the Artist.Day One, July 2015 by Erin Riley. Colour photograph. Collection of the Artist.
  • Still image from a video, showing a group of military staff.

  • The View From Point Pleasant (2017) by Eric Walker. Still from a high-definition experimental video, 16:28. Collection of the Artist.
The View From Point Pleasant (2017) by Eric Walker. Still from a high-definition experimental video, 16:28. Collection of the Artist.
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