Bring your family and friends to the Art Gallery this holiday season!

Dec 18, 2019

Reception for Bewabon Shilling: Between the Forest and the Sky, December 6, 2019, MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie. Photo: André Beneteau
The MacLaren Art Centre invites community members to bring their family and friends to the art gallery this holiday season. Visitors can enjoy an artful respite from the yuletide rush with new exhibitions, fun activities for children and beautiful handmade gifts by local artisans in the Gallery Shop for last minute holiday shopping. The excursion would not be complete without enjoying a festive hot chocolate by the fireplace in the Gallery Café.

This winter, the MacLaren is presenting five new exhibitions that shed light on the regional landscape, great literature and narratives of place.

Between the Forest and the Sky is a major solo exhibition featuring recent paintings by Bewabon Shilling that depict the forests and skies around the artist’s home at Rama Mnjikaning First Nation. Working from the studio built by his late father, artist Arthur Shilling (1941-1986), the works reveal a landscape that also inspired his father but rendered in a style that is entirely his own. Heroic in format and presented in the changeful, grey light of the Janice Laking Gallery at midwinter, the paintings suggest a landscape wilder than our ability to comprehend it.

Drawn from the MacLaren’s Permanent Collection, This Tremendous Arc features illustrations of canonical literature by British-born Canadian artist Bertram Brooker (1888-1955). Spanning three decades of artistic production, the works on view encompass Brooker’s re-imaginings of literary masterpieces, among them William Shakespeare’s Hamlet (c. 1600), Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables (1862) and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (1866).

In Northern Convergences, four contemporary artists—Felix Kalmenson, Tanya Lukin Linklater, Jeneen Frei Njootli and Charles Stankievech—respond to the MacLaren’s Sovfoto Archive, a collection of 23,116 vintage press prints from the Stalinist period in the USSR. Rereading this collection of photographs as a colonial archive, the exhibition looks at the consonance between Canadian and Russian colonialism from 1733 to the present.

Complementing Northern Convergences are screenings of three films by the artist collective Isuma. Isuma is the first Inuit production company in Canada, co-founded by Zacharias Kunuk, Norman Cohn, Paul Apak Angilirq and Pauloosie Qulitalik in Igloolik, Nunavut, in 1990. In their collective practice, they investigate archives as physical and oral repositories, contrasting Inuit histories and reflections on colonial exile, shamanism and museum collections. Also on view is Sovfoto 20/20. These photographs, drawn from the MacLaren’s collection of vintage Soviet press prints, highlight how artists and designers can be architects of the future and how the future is continuously reimagined in the present.

The MacLaren offers free guided tours on weekends from 10 am to 4 pm. Self-guided family activities are also available to help children and their caregivers have fun while learning about the ideas presented in these exhibitions.

The MacLaren’s winter exhibitions are made possible with the generous support of signature sponsor Barriston Law.

Find out more about what’s on during the holidays at