The McMichael delivers rare masterwork guitars by top Canadian luthiers in electrifying show debuting May 6


The McMichael delivers rare masterwork guitars by top Canadian luthiers in electrifying show debuting May 6

Household names Bruce Cockburn, Jesse Cook and Chris Hadfield feature in The Group of Seven Guitar Project

On May 6, 2017, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection invites visitors to experience the works of seven Canadian guitar makers renowned the world over. Curated by Sarah Stanners, the McMichael’s Chief Curator, The Group of Seven Guitar Project puts the spotlight on seven handmade guitars commissioned by the McMichael from great Canadian luthiers Jean Larrivée, Tony Duggan-Smith, George Gray, Sergei de Jonge, William “Grit” Laskin, Linda Manzer and David Wren.

This special exhibition at the McMichael introduces acoustic instruments inspired by and honouring each member of the Group of Seven, along with an eighth guitar dedicated to Tom Thomson and the role he played in the evolution of the Group. The show runs from May 6 until October 29, 2017, and is the first of its kind at the McMichael.

“Music lovers will fall in love with the visual arts, and art lovers will fall in love with the artistry attached to the music industry,” said exhibition curator Sarah Stanners. “This unprecedented project at the McMichael is so much more than a typical museum exhibition,” she added.

Accompanying these extraordinary handcrafted guitars will be a display of the luthiers’ preparatory drawings, materials, and tools used throughout their discovery-of-the-artist and creation processes—all set within the context of the artworks that inspired them. Select paintings and drawings by the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson will prime viewers to make the connection between the talents and passions of each artist and the guitars they inspired.

In addition, the McMichael commissioned a feature-length documentary on the making of each guitar by Gemini Award-winning production company Riddle Films, which will screen within an innovative and interactive exhibition space. Scenes from the film include jam sessions with the original masterwork guitars by award-winning musicians Bruce Cockburn, Jesse Cook, Don Ross and more.

As part of the McMichael’s Signature Performance Series, celebrated guitarists Tony McManus, Emma Rush, Jesse Cook, Mike Francis, Don Ross and Kevin Breit will perform at the McMichael on select concert dates running from May to October. On May 7, the legendary Larrivée—whose P-01 guitar made history when it was played in space by Chris Hadfield—will share the stage with the Canadian astronaut in one of seven Acoustic Conversations to be held at the McMichael.

An idea conceived by luthier Linda Manzer in 2012, The Group of Seven Guitar Project applauds a formidable group of Canadian artists from a century ago while demonstrating the global influence of a new group of seven that has, since the early 1970s, shaped the sound and form of the guitar under the tutelage of Jean Larrivée in Toronto. The camaraderie of this new group of seven is palpable, and their handmade guitars will make one see the artists they’ve always loved in a new way.

The luthiers and their respective artists are as follows: Jean Larrivée (A.Y. Jackson), Tony Duggan-Smith (Arthur Lismer), George Gray (Frank Johnston), Sergei de Jonge (J.E.H. MacDonald), William “Grit” Laskin (Frederick H. Varley), Linda Manzer (Lawren Harris) and David Wren (Franklin Carmichael). The eighth guitar, in a tribute to Tom Thomson (who died mysteriously before the Group of Seven formed in 1920) is a collaborative effort by all seven luthiers working together.

About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of over 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information:


Media Contacts:
Simona Panetta
Media Relations and Communications Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2210
[email protected]

Nick Foglia
Director, Communications, Marketing and Sales
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2265
[email protected]

*The Art of Canada is an official mark of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

Image 1:
Hand-crafted guitars by: (left to right) Sergei de Jonge, George Gray, Jean Larrivée, Linda Manzer, Grit Laskin, David Wren, Tony Duggan‑Smith
Group of Seven Guitar Project
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Photo: David Wren

Image 2 and 4:
Grit Laskin
Because Of Constance 2015-2016
Guitar (Varley)
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Photo: David Wren

Image 3:
David Wren
Guitar (Carmichael) 2015‑2016
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
Photo: David Wren