“The AGH Collection is a storied, varied, and wonderful treasure that is pleasure to share with others; there’s nothing like hearing someone say, “I had no idea the Art Gallery of Hamilton had such a Collection….” I love it when visitors share their knowledge and insight with me; I am constantly learning!” – Larissa
The Fridays at Four program evolved out of the digital delivery of AGH Tours during the global pandemic. A silver lining, this program has been able to thrive with our unprecedented times and reach both global and local audiences despite our doors remaining closed. When the Gallery opened its doors to our new season of exhibitions, this program was simply too successful to end.
Fridays at Four is now presented monthly as way to delve into the AGH’s Permanent Collection. In this article we hear from the dedicated Docents who run this flourishing program in its latest monthly iteration. Below they share some of their favourite artworks from the #AGHCollection.
I am drawn to this painting because it’s set in Hamilton. It shows a very damaged Henderson Hospital in the foreground after a nuclear bomb has been dropped. It’s a dire, horrible subject, but wonderful to tour. The artist is so interesting – his upbringing, his art education, his time in England at a famous psychiatric hospital, and his devout faith as a Catholic convert. There’s also his time in Toronto when he was a framer for gallery owner Av Isaacs, linking him to Michael Snow, Joyce Wieland, and Graham Coughtry.
First off, given the vulnerability of works on paper to light damage, these are works that I’ve never seen in person, so I felt a bit like a successful treasure hunter finding them. Secondly, you can feel the emotion leaping off the page in both works; the joy in the first piece and the despair in the second. Finally, I’m in awe of the skill that Long demonstrates here. I understand charcoal can be a tricky medium, yet her use of light and shadow and the details she chose to include and the ones she excluded make for compelling scenes. Here she captured moments that were intensely personal and intimate, yet life-changing and universal.
I first saw this many years ago. I remember relating to those women huddled against the weather laden with their heavy bundles. It’s a static sculpture but there is so much movement implied. These days, with the focus on the struggles of Indigenous people, especially women, the little sculpture means even more to me.
You don’t see horses running along tracks. It just doesn’t happen. It’s too difficult for their hooves. But this horse is barreling along tracks towards an oncoming train, with its light on. It’s not like the horse can’t see the train coming, yet it stays on course. What is the outcome going to be? Is it inevitable that the horse will be killed, and if that’s the end result, what is the artist suggesting? On the other hand, by having something completely improbable portrayed–a horse running on a track towards an oncoming train that it can clearly see–could the artist be suggesting that what seems inevitable won’t happen? That it won’t be the horse that gets killed? And if that’s the end result, what meaning does that have? The scene is unfolding on a wide marsh under a grey sky. It’s not a happy, pretty picture. There’s foreboding in the surroundings as well as on the track. The work is so incredibly enigmatic that I am entranced by it.
Norval Morrisseau is one of my favorite artists. I gained a great deal of additional knowledge about him by researching for my Fridays at Four presentations as well as for the online student class lesson with Laurie on this particular work of art. The “Children of Life” painting reflects my love of children and is an ongoing source of happiness for me as the students on my gallery tours “come to life” when discussing the painting. It has a beautiful Indigenous spiritual component which also appeals to me as I continue to learn more about the Indigenous way of life.
Interested in learning more?
Join us on March 4th at 4pm for a Fridays at Four program that delves into “The Camera Eye”.
“We don’t often think of photography as art, so this program will illustrate the artistic features of that medium.” – Frances
Explore and share your passion for art by getting involved as a Docent!
“The AGH is a very special Gallery which has an outstanding collection and ongoing amazing exhibitions. As a Docent it has provided me with a special place to meet new friends and to become a part of the AGH family with the welcoming and supportive staff.” – Lynn
The Fridays at Four program are delivered virtually for the time being. But at the time of this publication, the AGH is open with several brand new exhibitions on view!
As we continue to navigate the ongoing public health conditions, the safety of our visitors remains our top priority. For up-to-date information about all of the safety protocols and procedures now in place, head to our Plan Your Visit page.
Artwork in Header Image: Meryl McMaster (Cree/Euro-Canadian, born 1988), From a Still Unquiet Place, 2019, chromogenic print flush mounted to Aluminium Composite Panel. Gift of the Women’s Art Association of Hamilton.
Many thanks to Larissa, Fiona, Frances, Michael, and Lynn for offering their invaluable expertise and experience.