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An interview with Toronto artist Anique Jordan: Lawren Harris, Toronto and a complicated history

August 17th, 2016


When you think of Lawren Harris, do you imagine snow-capped mountains and ice-blue sky?  While he is best known for these iconic images that have become an accepted part of our Canadian identity, Harris spent his formative years in Toronto, often painting a complex and culturally diverse neighbourhood called the Ward. Come experience these remarkable Toronto works for the first time (or again), along with his best northern landscapes, in The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris, on until September 18. See Toronto’s early days from Harris’ perspective, along with archival photos and maps of the Ward and a response to those images from contemporary Canadian artists.

Anique1_webWe asked Anique Jordan, a Toronto artist who created two extraordinary works for the exhibition, to share her thoughts about Lawren Harris’ complicated legacy and how her work is focused on creating a more inclusive Canadian history.

AGO: What about Lawren Harris’ work interests you?  

AJ: My interest in Lawren Harris began as an interest in Canadian and Torontonian archives, specifically in the stories that are absent from them.  I wanted to uncover what the invisible parts of Toronto’s history – its people, its architecture, its spirit– look like. A lot of work that I do looks at the spiritual aspect of Lawren Harris’ work and also looks at some of the things that are missing from his work.

AGO: What were some of your observations?

AJ: His work made me think about some of the ideals of Canadian art history and what it means when we remove images of people from landscapes and from spaces. For me, Harris’ paintings from the ward and his northern landscapes are an entry point into questioning: who has the power to construct these official “histories”? And what are the implications of omitting, erasing or making invisible particular versions of history? What if Canadian history and art history could offer a nuanced, complex memory of people, places and moments?

AGO: What was most surprising when you first came across his work depicting the Ward?

AJ: I was most surprised by how much of this densely populated, immigrant community laid buried under Toronto, and until recently, was hardly mentioned. One of my works in the exhibition is a re-creation of the Black British Methodist Episcopal church that existed in Toronto in the early 1900s in the ward. Using a church congregation, I re-enacted a Black Victorian mourning scene with intentions to not only think about the fact that Black Canadian histories and Black histories in general are constantly omitted from the archives, but also with the intention to honour surrealism, sacredness and ritual.  While these images are inspired by the past, they also free us to imagine the possibilities for a different present and future.


AGO: Lawren Harris painted Toronto at a particular time in our history.  How does his work – and your work – help us better realize Toronto’s history and how can it help us understand our present/future?   

AJ: We would have lost something important if we didn’t consider the role this work has in questioning and shaping a type of future we might not have once been able to imagine. We hold a responsibility to include these stories, without simplifying them, into the dominant narratives of our city’s building.

To find out more about Anique Jordan, please visit

Come and see for yourself!  Book your tickets today and share your thoughts online using #HarrisAGO.


IMAGE CREDITS: [1] Lawren S. Harris, The Corner Store 1912
 oil on canvas. Bequest of Mary Gordon Nesbitt, Toronto, 1992 
92/113 © 2016 The Family of Lawren S. Harris [2] Arthur Goss, Printed by Jeremy Taylor Health Department. Rear Yard, 512 Front Street East August 27, 1914; printed 1998
 gelatin silver print Purchase, 1998 © 2016 Art Gallery of Ontario [3] Lawren S. Harris, In the Ward  c. 1920
 oil on board. On loan from a private collection © 2016 The Family of Lawren S. Harris [4] Karimah Gheddai, 2016 [5] Anique Jordan, Mas’ at 94 Chestnut 2016 digital C-print mounted on di-bond. © 2016 Anique Jordan

When Steve Met Lawren

July 27th, 2016

By now, you’re probably more than familiar with comedian, actor, musician, author, art collector, curator, and inexhaustible multi-hyphenate Steve Martin, who helped bring to life The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris (on now til September 18). But you may be less familiar with why and how this charismatic fellow became involved with the Group of Seven painter. Martin tells all (and some jokes) in the videos below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Northern dining: Lawren Harris meets Terroir Symposium

April 18th, 2016


(Lawren Harris, Lake and Mountains, 1928, Oil on canvas, 130.8 x 160.7 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift from the Fund of the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. for Canadian Works of Art, 1948 © Estate of Lawren Harris)

(Lawren Harris, Lake and Mountains, 1928, Oil on canvas, 130.8 x 160.7 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift from the Fund of the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. for Canadian Works of Art, 1948 © Estate of Lawren Harris)

Our very own FRANK Restaurant is thrilled to announce a partnership with Terroir Symposium, one of the largest gatherings of the Canadian hospitality and culinary community, to create an inspirational dining experience featuring 16 internationally renowned chefs from across Canada and beyond. These culinary masterminds will work collaboratively with sustainable suppliers to prepare a six-course menu inspired by the upcoming exhibition, The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris. The chefs will create dishes using the bounty of our northern climate utilizing resources in the most delicious ways.

Monday, April 25, 7pm – 1am
FRANK Restaurant (The Art Gallery of Ontario)
Cost: $200
per person + tax and gratuity. $20 from each ticket sold will be donated to Canadian Food Centres Canada.

Get tickets here

Featured Chefs: Christine Flynn, IQ Food Co. Toronto; Pierre Lamielle, Food on Your Shirt, Calgary; Charlotte Langley, Scout Canning, Toronto; Renée Bellefeuille, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Brandon Baltzley, 41-70, Woods Hole, MA; Todd Perrin, Mallard Cottage, St. Johns, NL; Ned Bell, Yew Seafood Bar, Four Seasons, Vancouver; Jeremy Charles, Raymonds & The Merchant Tavern, St. Johns, NL; Ned Elliot, Foreign and Domestic, Austin; Jim Christiansen, Hey Day, Minneapolis; Scott Vivian, Beast Restaurant, Toronto; Basilio Pesce, The Cheese Boutique, Toronto; Diane Yang, Spoon & Stable, Minneapolis; Bertrand Alépée, The Tempered Room, Toronto and John Jackson & Connie DeSousa, Charcut & Carbar, Calgary.

Learn more at, and follow @TerroirTalk and @Terroir10 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, Terroir, Canada’s leading food service and hospitality symposium, brings together the elite of Canada’s restaurant industry, including influential chefs, food writers, wine and food experts, journalists and business leaders.