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Gallery Talk

J.E.H. MacDonald: Up Close

Book cover titled Up Close: The Artist's Materials and Techniques by J.E.H. MacDonald

Join Kate Helwig, Senior Conservation Scientist at the Canadian Conservation Institute, and Alison Douglas, Conservator at the McMichael, as they share findings from their research into the painting materials and techniques of J.E.H. MacDonald, a founding member of the Group of Seven, a tranche of whose recently ‘rediscovered’ works have sparked an authentication controversy. Helwig and Douglas’s scientific research played a crucial role in unraveling the mystery behind the alleged MacDonald sketches currently on view at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the exhibition J.E.H. MacDonald? A Tangled Garden, and this talk will delve into the science and art of authentication within the context of their research.

Speakers: Kate Helwig and Alison Douglas

Hosted & Moderated by McMichael Deputy Chief Curator Jennifer Withrow

Date & Time

Sunday, April 14
at 2 pm


Registration Required. Free with Gallery admission. Donations are welcome.


McMichael Canadian Art Collection
10365 Islington Ave,
Kleinburg, ON L0J 1C0 

Book Signing

The presentation, illustrated with by work by MacDonald selected from the McMichael’s vaults, will be followed by a book signing of J.E.H. MacDonald: Up Close by authors Helwig and Douglas, in the Gallery Shop.

The event is in partnership with Goose Lane Editions

Goose Lane Logo

Featured Speakers

Profile picture of Kate Helwig
Kate Helwig, M.Sc., M.A.C, is a senior conservation scientist at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa, Ontario.

Kate Helwig completed her Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the University of Toronto and Master’s in Physical Chemistry at Stanford University. To combine her interests in art and science, she then studied art conservation at Queen’s University and received a Master of Art Conservation (M.A.C.). She works at the Canadian Conservation Institute in Ottawa, Ontario, as a senior conservation scientist, specializing in the analysis of cultural heritage materials. Kate has ledmany scientific examination projects related to attribution and authentication of paintings. These projects included the interpretation of scientific imaging, close visual examination of artist’s technique, multi-instrumental chemical analysis, and the correlation of scientific results with historical information. She has presented her research at numerous national and international conferences, and she has authored over 50 peer-reviewed articles and several book chapters.

Profile picture of Alison Douglas

Alison Douglas, B.F.A., M.A.C., is the conservator at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario.

Alison Douglas completed her Bachelor of Fine Art and Master of Art Conservation (M.A.C.), specializing in paintings, at Queen’s University. She has worked for 20 years at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario. For the past 18 years, she has been their only conservator. As the McMichael collects exclusively Canadian art, Alison has gained extensive knowledge of the methods and materials of the Group of Seven and their contemporaries as well as many other Canadian and Indigenous artists. Her research interests include the use of jute and its inherent conservation issues as a painting support used by early twentieth-century Canadian artists, as well as the varied uses of artist materials in contemporary painting, and preventive conservation. Alison has also continued to work as an artist in oil paint, ceramics, and various other media.