Introduction to the Permanent Collection

View of the gallery

Over one hundred and eighty-five works of art are preserved in the Temiskaming Art Gallery’s permanent collection. And it is continually growing. The acquisition and care of this material has been a work of love and dedication. Almost every item came because of someone’s donation. Often it was the artist’s – and anyone who knows the labour and emotion that goes into any piece of art, will know what a valuable gift each was. Other acquisitions have come from generous owners or left as bequests. The result is an unparalleled collection of northeastern Ontario art as well as some excellent examples from artists across Canada and abroad.
Many of the works are about environment. They have an energy and spirit that embraces the power of this region’s landscape. This is at the core of the wood masks carved by artists from Six Nations Reserve. We also see the headframes, the sentinels of our local history as well as the houses hugging the rock, the lakes and sweeping skies that frame our local world. In others we are given only the essence, as colour and shape and form blend and collide to catch and interpret the imagination of the artist. The collection also contains some extraordinary works from across Canada often given by artists who came and fell in love with the region and left these gifts behind. Others are from even further afield.
The collection preserves stories and images of moments and places in time. It has become a treasure of art and history.
It is also a visual record of some extraordinary artists and northerners.We don’t know all the artists’ names, but what strikes one when reading the artists’ biographies we do have, is how much the generosity of the region has soaked into the art community. The stories are full of artistic camaraderie; of people sharing their skills and ideas; of encouragement and mentoring; they tell of artists inspiring artists, artists teaching artists, and artists just having a whale of a good time with artists. It is possible that this generosity is reflected in the art itself. Certainly there is more joy, exhilaration, reflection and peace than rage and dark foreboding in this collection of works.

Ability to find works in collection by:

The value of TAG and the permanent collection

Many of the artists, whose works are in the TAG collection, have commented on the value of this resource.  Their collective comments are summarised below: 

  • What a wonderful legacy the collection leaves for our northern community.
  • It is extremely important that the collection has a northern Ontario section because of the North’s place in Canada’s artistic and cultural history.  And we have to be reminded of our own self worth.  There are a great number of fantastic artists working and creating important works that should not go unnoticed.  TAG is doing an important job in exhibiting northern artists and informing people in the North about art.  It is also important for a historical perspective for educating the community.
  • Without the pottery and sculpture, carvings and paintings from the past, we’d have little on which to base our knowledge of our own heritage.  Northern art reflects northern living, the materials, images and era are indicators for historians in the future who will know more about us from the art of the era.
  • It gives the public ready and easy access to high calibre art and is a source of pride for community
  • The permanent collections are the lifeblood of any public art.  It records our moments of searching, dedication and life.  It also completes the artistic cycle when displayed as there is no point in creating if there is no response
  • It gives artists motivation and encouragement
  • It allows our work to be preserved even if we do not belong to a group or have a vast body of work
  • It helps us to sell work and continue making paintings.
  • It is a valuable resource and lifeline to budding artists and northern painters. 
  • It provides a recorded influence by artists through their years of producing art, including the different innovative methods used in telling their story.
  • It provides different narratives and points of view; it provides ideas about techniques.
  • The collection preserves pictures which in turn are personal statements about the artists’ life and surroundings.  Artists leave their thumbprint on their work; while the spirit of the land that influenced them leaves its thumbprint as well.
  • The collection provides an appropriate acknowledgement of the artist’s position / role and contribution in relation to the general community.
  • In acquiring different works of artists as their art develops over time, the collection will show changes and continuity in artistic development and encapsulate the art history of the region. It will also show changes in the curatorial direction of the gallery; for instance the presence of contemporary art in the collection shows a new direction
  • The collection is also serving an important historical role.  For instance, Temagami and region set many precedents in the global environment movement and the associated art (some now in the gallery) has never been properly acknowledged as part of the local cultural scene.