Art Inspired by "50 Canadian Things" Coast Reporter

Art work contributed to the group show “50 Canadian Things” was featured in a review in the coast reporter this week. Here is a link to the review and the text below:

Art inspired by 50 Canadian things Sunshine Coast Art Centre. Jan DeGrass / Arts & Entertainment Writer JULY 27, 2017

Author Jane Urquhart has given a lyrical 150th birthday gift to Canada. She chose 50 objects associated with Canada and has woven a researched historical narrative around each one in her latest book, A Number of Things (Harper Collins). The series of 50 short stories and vignettes is designed to inform or to inspire. The book has certainly had an inspiring effect on the Sunshine Coast because it has sparked one of the year’s most innovative and interesting shows, titled 50 Canadian Things, to take place at the Arts Centre in Sechelt.

Tim McLaughlin’s Torah: a modified notebook of his writing, goose quill hand-cut by the artist, glass bottle of iron-gall ink made by the artist.

Tim McLaughlin’s Torah: a modified notebook of his writing, goose quill hand-cut by the artist, glass bottle of iron-gall ink made by the artist.

Curator for the show, artist Ian MacLeod, invited 50 Sunshine Coast artists to each create a work inspired by one of the book’s 50 selected Canadian things. He looked for variety: artists whose work he liked, as well as unfamiliar artists who had never shown at the Arts Centre before. He was also looking for different techniques: three-dimensional, fabric, print-making, photos or paintings.

“I find her [Urquhart’s] work to be very visual,” MacLeod told Coast Reporter. In some cases he matched up the artist with one of Urquhart’s stories, and in other cases he gave the artist a choice of stories as a starting point for their piece. 

The 50 artifacts range from a Nobel Peace Prize medal, a literary cherry tree, a Beothuk legging found in the grave of a small child, a famous skull, a shoe that belonged to Emily Carr, a Sikh RCMP turban, a Cree basket, a Massey-Harris tractor and a hanging rope. Each object in the book is illustrated by the noted artist Scott McKowen. However, MacLeod did not want the artists to see or be influenced by the book’s illustrations.

“I didn’t want to interfere in any way with the artist’s interpretation,” he said. The unjuried results have been surprising and exciting. “The ones I really like,” he said, “are not necessarily the best art – interpretation is what I was going for. I’m looking for the message.”

Photographer Tim McLaughlin chose the story called Torah and he has essentially written his own version of a torah on a modified notebook and then photographed it (the actual item will be on display under glass during the show). When MacLeod read the story of McLaughlin’s father and forgiveness, he felt chills. “He opened up a door for me by what I was reading there,” he said.

Artist Liz Christian picked the story Temple and it resonated with her as it is about the never ending search for beauty in the concrete jungle. Darla Van Horne’s encaustic titled Grave depicts the outcome of the Franklin expedition. 

Author Urquhart has not yet seen the artwork that is based on her book and MacLeod is eagerly awaiting her reaction. The opening reception for this unique event is on Sunday, Aug. 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Doris Crowston Gallery, 5714 Medusa (at Trail) in Sechelt.

Jane Urquhart will be visiting and reading from her book at the Arts Centre’s gallery in Sechelt on Thursday, Aug. 10 at 8 p.m. Tickets for $20 are available at or by calling 604-885-5412.

Tim McLaughlin

Photographer and writer based in Vancouver, Canada