May 25, 2016, Kleinburg, ON – In celebration of its 50th anniversary, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is taking visitors on a journey to experience art in fifty-year leaps stretching backward and forward from the McMichael’s founding years in the mid-1960s. From June 4, 2016 to January 8, 2017, the McMichael presents three distinct yet complementary exhibitions as part of the special exhibition program 50/50/50A.Y. Jackson & Tom Thomson: Wounds of War, Jack Bush: In Studio, and Colleen Heslin: Needles and Pins. These shows celebrate historic, Modern, and contemporary Canadian art at its best.

A.Y. Jackson & Tom Thomson: Wounds of War will focus on Jackson’s and Thomson’s First World War art and the influence each had on the other’s creative process after sharing a studio for a year in 1914. Their different responses to war—Thomson on the homefront; Jackson on the battlefront—their wartime art, Jackson’s work as an official war artist, and his post-commemorative paintings will be explored in the show.

“What you see in this exhibition is Jackson and Thomson, separated by war, having a conversation in paint,” said Dr. Laura Brandon, C.M., guest curator. “After their year together in 1914, Jackson went overseas and the two artists never saw each other again. However, the creative impact of that year was so great that in this show you see it evolving into some of their greatest work. And this is happening in the crucible of war; in a time of absence, stress, hurt and ultimately, tragedy.”

The opening date of this exhibition marks 100 years from the time Jackson was seriously wounded during the Battle of Mount Sorrel—an event that transformed his life and art. On view are Jackson’s only three known original drawings from his time as a soldier, in addition to, for the first time, the bullet and shrapnel that wounded him.

Travelling from the historic to the Modernist period, Jack Bush: In Studio will feature twenty select paintings by the Toronto-born artist Jack Bush, five of which have never been exhibited in Ontario until now. In the most classic sense, studio refers to “room for study”, and it’s the intention of this exhibition to gather these paintings in a new space to encourage conversations, debates, and dialogue about this remarkable Canadian Colour Field painter.

The name of this exhibition also refers to the workspaces Bush occupied to create these bold modernist artworks. In a one-room studio in his family home in North Toronto, fifteen of the paintings on view were produced. In the latter part of the artist’s life, from 1968 until his death in 1977, the last five works in this show were created in his Toronto Wolseley Street studio. Bush’s huge masterworks displayed in the mid-century modern gallery spaces at the McMichael contribute to an awe-inspiring “ship in a bottle” effect that will wow all gallery-goers.

Jack Bush: In Studio is the first solo exhibition of Bush’s abstract work in a major public gallery in the Toronto area since 1976,” said Dr. Sarah Stanners, Director of Curatorial & Collections at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. “The studio played a crucial role in Bush’s artistic process, as this space acted as a sounding board to converse about and test colour; a place to face dead ends and challenges; a place to putter and make grand statements; and, most of all, a place to be absorbed in art.”

Colleen Heslin: Needles and Pins is the final component of this exhibition program, showcasing the contemporary art of Colleen Heslin, the national winner of the Annual RBC Canadian Painting Competition in 2013. Heslin explores colour, shape, and texture by hand-dyeing and sewing fabrics together to create paintings that are narratively ambiguous and open to interpretation. Her work further acknowledges the histories of photography and textiles.

As part of her process, cotton and linen are hand-dyed in small batches and hung to dry, which develops residual surface textures. The stained fabric is then cut and pieced together—similar to quilt-making methods; a method that is inherently linked to domestic labour, feminism, and craft.

“It’s important to consider that these paintings do not immediately reveal how they are made or what they speak to,” said Naomi Potter, guest curator and Director of the Esker Foundation in Calgary where the exhibition was initially organized. “Abstraction becomes a way to respect interests beyond western art history. Heslin’s use of colour and shape is informed through traditions of craft, design, and patterning, but the work successfully stands in dialogue with the Colour Field painters of the 1960s and 1970s.”

This show will include nearly a dozen new works by Heslin created specifically for the McMichael.

The McMichael has received generous support from 50th Anniversary Premier Partner, RBC; 50th Anniversary Signature Partner, The Sprott Foundation; as well as financial assistance from the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund, a program of the Government of Ontario through the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, administered by the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund Corporation.

“Our national identity has been shaped by, and is reflected in, the arts,” said Kim Mason, RBC Regional President for Greater Toronto. “McMichael is a national treasure and home to so many iconic Canadian works of art. We are honoured to be part of celebrating their 50th anniversary season and the exhibitions that tell our national story.”

High resolution images of the artworks in the exhibitions are available to the media upon request by contacting: Daniela Travierso-Galati at or 905.893.1121 ext. 2210.


You are invited to a Media Preview for the special exhibition program, 50/50/50 and to meet:

Laura Brandon, Order of Canada, former Canadian War Museum Curator, curator of A.Y. Jackson & Tom Thomson: Wounds of War

Dr. Sarah Stanners, Chief Curator, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, curator of Jack Bush: In Studio

Naomi Potter, Director and Curator, Esker Foundation, curator of Colleen Heslin: Needles and Pins

Colleen Heslin, Artist, Needles and Pins

Friday, June 3, 2016

11 am to 1 pm

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

10365 Islington Ave. (north of Major Mackenzie Dr.) Kleinburg, ON L0J 1C0


Daniela Travierso-Galati

905.893.1121 ext. 2210

Media wishing to review the exhibition after June 3 are welcome to schedule a viewing time at their convenience.


Jack Bush: At Home and In Studio

Speakers: Jack Bush Jr.; Terry Bush; Dr. Sarah Stanners, Exhibition Curator

Sunday, June 12 at 2:30 pm

This conversation led by exhibition curator and Jack Bush expert, Dr. Sarah Stanners, with the artist’s two sons, Jack and Terry, will provide intimate insight into Bush’s working method and reminisce about the artists who visited his studio and home. A unique opportunity to discover a private side of the artist who, in addition to being one of the most revered Canadian abstract painters, was a warm family man.

Fee: A+ seating (first two rows only) $29 general public; $24 McMichael members; $15 for students with valid ID. A seating: $19 general public; $15 McMichael members; $10 for students with valid ID. Registration required. Book online, call 905.893.1121 ext. 2216, or email Visit for more information. Fee includes gallery admission.

A.Y. Jackson: War, Art, and Identity

Speaker: Laura Brandon, Exhibition Curator

Sunday, October 16 at 2:30 pm

The First World War had a profound impact on Jackson’s art and identity, as did his pre-war studies in France and Italy. Tom Thomson and British war artist Paul Nash were similarly influential. Jackson’s post-war canvases and those of his fellow Group of Seven members reflect this fascinating intertwining of old and new world inspirations.

Fee: A+ seating (first two rows only) $29 general public; $24 McMichael members; $15 for students with valid ID. A seating: $19 general public; $15 McMichael members; $10 for students with valid ID. Registration required. Call 905.893.1121 ext. 2216, or Visit for more information. Fee includes gallery admission.

Jack Bush: 50 Years Later

Speakers:  Marc Mayer, Director, National Gallery of Canada; Colleen Heslin, artist; Dr. Sarah Stanners, Exhibition Curator

Sunday, October 30 at 2:30 pm

A unique opportunity to revisit Jack Bush’s legacy as an illustrator, painter, and a continuous inspiration to new generations of artists through a conversation between Marc Mayer, CEO and Director of the National Gallery of Canada; Colleen Heslin, a Vancouver-based artist celebrated at the McMichael in her latest solo exhibition Needles and Pins, and; Dr. Sarah Stanners, McMichael’s Chief Curator.

Fee: A+ seating (first two rows only) $29 general public; $24 McMichael members; $15 for students with valid ID. A seating: $19 general public; $15 McMichael members; $10 for students with valid ID. Registration required. Call 905.893.1121 ext. 2216, or Visit for more information. Fee includes gallery admission.

Colour Fields: Artist’s Talk and Workshop with Colleen Heslin

Friday, October 28, 10 am to 4:30 pm

This exclusive painting workshop, led by the artist featured in the exhibition Needles and Pins, will explore Josef Albers’ colour and chromatic interaction theory through an in-gallery discussion, artist’s demonstration, and an artmaking workshop. Materials included.

Fee: $70 general public; $63 McMichael members. Registration required. Call 905.893.1121 ext. 2216, or Visit for more information. Fee includes gallery admission.

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 theforemost 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:

About Colleen Heslin

Colleen Heslin is an artist and independent curator based in Vancouver. With an MFA from Concordia University, Montreal, and a BFA from Emily Carr University, Vancouver, her work explores medium crossovers between painting, sculpture, fibers and photography. Heslin was the winner of the 2013 RBC Painting Competition and her work has been exhibited and published in Canada, USA, and Europe. Heslin founded The Crying Room Projects, (1999-2014), which provided an open platform for emerging contemporary art in Vancouver’s downtown eastside.

About Esker Foundation

Founded in 2012, Esker Foundation is the largest privately funded contemporary art gallery in Calgary. The gallery features 10,000 sq. ft. of 4th floor exhibition galleries, as well as a street level Project Space on 9th Ave. Combining an international program with a sustained interest in local and regional production, the Foundation supports, through temporary exhibitions, commissions, and publications, ground breaking new work, ideas, and research, and above all creates opportunities for public dialogue and engagement.

About RBC

Royal Bank of Canada is Canada’s largest bank, and one of the largest banks in the world, based on market capitalization. We are one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies, and provide personal and commercial banking, wealth management, insurance, investor services and capital markets products and services on a global basis. We have over 80,000 full- and part-time employees who serve more than 16 million personal, business, public sector and institutional clients through offices in Canada, the U.S. and 37 other countries. For more information, please visit‎

In 2015, the RBC Foundation committed more than $4.3 million to 167 arts and cultural organizations supporting local, national and international initiatives, contributing to the cultural fabric of our communities. Our support is focused on artists in the early stages of their careers through the RBC Emerging Artists Project.

RBC helps communities prosper, supporting a broad range of community initiatives through donations, community investments, sponsorships and employee volunteer activities. In 2015, we contributed more than $100 million to causes around the world.

About the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund

OCAF was established in 1999 with three aims: to increase cultural tourism to and across Ontario by providing investments to assist Ontario organizations to develop, promote and present one-off or first time events, or a significant expansion of existing activity; to increase the earned revenue capacity of the applicant organization; and to support events that foster economic growth and contribute to job creation.


Media Contacts:

Daniela Travierso-Galati

Media Relations and Communications Coordinator

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

905.893.1121 ext. 2210

Nick Foglia

Director, Communications, Marketing and Sales

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

905.893.1121 ext. 2265

With Generous Support From

The Estate of Jack Bush

Colleen Heslin: Needles and Pins is Organized and Circulated by Esker Foundation, Calgary

50th Anniversary Premier Partner

50th Anniversary Signature Partner

With Financial Assistance From

Media Partners