2006 twenty-five artists marked the 100th anniversary
of Amundsen’s 1906 navigation through the Northwest
passage with a northern journey of their own.
During a twelve day voyage, the group
Arctic Quest recorded their impressions on canvas, paper
and film as they visit remote Arctic communities to
paint and distribute art supplies. On their return they
will participate in an ambitious program of exhibitions,
film, workshops, lectures, student exchanges and historical
projects, all planned to coincide with International
Polar Year taking place 2007-09.
Arctic Quest was conceived by artists
Linda Mackey of Toronto, Kathy Haycock
of Eganville Ontario and Bonnie Levinthal of Philadelphia,
Pennsylvania. The exciting adventure is inspired by
artists who went before: artists who recordied images
on the early European voyages of discovery, Group of
Seven artists A. Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris and Fred
Varley, and more recent artists Doris McCarthy and the
late Dr. Maurice Haycock, all of whom
went to the Arctic to paint and were profoundly influenced
and infected with a passion for the North. Following
in their footsteps and creating a path of their own,
the 25 contemporary artists intend to interpret and
share their passion for the Arctic between North and
South, from East to West. They hope to draw attention
northern issues such as climate change, sovereignty
and the fragile environment, and to encourage and stimulate
artistic expression by Inuit youth.
Arctic Quest was officially launched
in January 2005 by Doris McCarthy and astronaut/Arctic
photographer Roberta Bondar at Toronto’s First
Canadian Place. This past spring, participating artists
donated paintings, and generous donors contributed a
variety of items, to be auctioned for fundraising. On
March 25 Sotheby’s Auction House raised over $55,000
during a gala event at the historic Arts and Letters
Club in Toronto. A painting of Pangnirtung Fiord donated
by Doris McCarthy brought $6,000 which is destined to
assist young and emerging Inuit artists.
Supporters of the project include the
Office of the Governor General of Canada, Parks Canada,
Indian and Northern Affairs, Government of Norway, International
Polar Year Secretariat, Toronto Star, Sotheby’s,
Elmer's Products, Inc. and Mark's Work Wearhouse.
Art education and the Ontario Lieutenant
Governor’s Twinning Initiative were already in
progress during the past school year and will be expanded
next fall. The group hopes to bring about the restoration
of an historic building in Pangnirtung for use by
local and visiting artists. The building was built in
1926 by Maurice Haycock and Lud Weeks
of the Geological Survey of Canada (see ‘The Geological
Survey’s First Arctic Research Station’,
Canadian Geographic Magazine April/May 1991).
Arctic Quest will create a culturally
and historically important body of artwork. The touring
exhibitions of contemporary, historical and Inuit art
and educational programs will provide an exciting insight
on the Arctic for Canadians and international audiences.
Exhibition venues have already been confirmed in Vancouver,
Toronto and Philadelphia PA, USA and more will be added.
For more information on Arctic Quest
and updates on exhibition dates and locations go to