The Arts and Wellbeing: Art and Successful Aging

What are some of the benefits of renting art from the Canada Council Art Bank? Our Arts and Wellbeing series looks at how the presence of art can have a positive impact on our lives—in the workplace and beyond.

In recent years, the term “successful aging” has been widely used by those working with elderly individuals. How can successful aging be achieved? Research indicates activity and meaningful participation in social life seem to contribute the most—and the visual arts may have a vital role to play.

A team of researchers in Sweden wanted to examine whether the visual arts could be used to foster social interactions amongst older women and lead them out of isolation. The study¹ was conducted with 40 women living in a facility for semi-independent seniors. The average age of the participants was 82.6. The group was matched to a control group of women with similar profiles. The participants noted and reported all of their social activities, interactions and habits, including watching television alone, before, during and after the study.

Researchers spent time with the participants looking at art and asked the women to describe the paintings, to pretend they were the artists and give some insight or make associations such as memories, feelings or thoughts. Researchers used 84 reproductions of well-known paintings by artists such as Klee, Monet, and van Gogh. The control group spent the same time with the researchers, but discussed current topics, programs on television and the hobbies of the women.

Claude Monet, Les Nymphéas (1904) from the Musée d’art moderne André Malraux in Le Havre, France

The researchers found an increase in social interaction in the group that took part in the visual art discussions compared to no increase in the control group. The effect continued for four months after the end of the art discussions. The researchers do not understand which aspects of visual arts stimulate a desire for more social interaction in older women, but they suspect it has to do with reminiscence—which, in older adults, has been proven to be a healthy way to process the past and adapt to actual and anticipated changes in life.

Do you have a workplace where older adults could benefit from the presence of art? Contact the Art Bank to discuss how you can bring works from the collection into your space.

Molly Bobak, Shediac Beach (N.B.) (1972)

Alex Colville, Running Dog (1968)

William Kurelek, A Roofing Bee (1976)

About the Author: Sonia Poisson
Sonia Poisson is a lecturer and freelance researcher specialising in the anthropology of art. She received an M.A. in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths College, University of London and an M.A. in Art History from Carleton University. She works on various historical and arts-related projects for television, documentaries and museum exhibitions.


¹Wikström, B. -M, Hälsohögskolan, Högskolan i Jönköping, and Avd för omvårdnad HHJ. “Social Interaction Associated with Visual Art Discussions: A Controlled Intervention Study.” Aging & Mental Health 6, no. 1 (2002): 82-87.


Weaving together a history of textiles in the Art Bank collection

This past spring I was invited to speak at the Ottawa Valley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild about the Art Bank textile collection. This prompted me to explore how the Art Bank has collected textiles over its 45 year history—and led me to many fascinating discoveries along the way.

There are over 150 fibre based works in the Art Bank collection valued at more than a million dollars. Our first textile works were acquired in 1972—including works by Isolde Savage, An Whitlock and Guerite Steinbacher—and we have consistently acquired textile based works since then.

My presentation to the Guild focused on 42 artworks by 24 artists. I chose these artists to demonstrate changes in style and sophistication over the Bank’s 46 year collecting history. Many of the artists in the collection participated in the prestigious International Biennial of Tapestry in Lausanne, Switzerland, an important Biennial that took place between 1962 and 1995. The Biennial chronicled the evolution of textile art in the context of the history of modern and contemporary art.

Here are some of my favorite textile artists, and their works, in the Art Bank collection:

  • Charlotte Lindgren. Lindgren creates woven sculptural and architectural pieces such as Black Cylinder Series and Tambaran. Her work was also featured in Expo 67’s Canadian Fine Crafts exhibition.

Charlotte Lindgren, Black Cylinder Series (1970)

  • Micheline Beauchemin. Beauchemin is the recipient of many important awards, including the Prix Paul-Émile Borduas, the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts and an Officer of the Order of Canada. The Art Bank owns only one work by Beauchemin: Ailes No. 4, which is woven with reflective silver threads that change according to the light.

Micheline Beauchemin, Ailes No.4 (1968)

  • Karen Chapnick. I’ve always enjoyed Chapnick’s work—particularly the dyed sisal pieces in our collection including Colour Puzzle and Forest Light. The individual pieces of sisal are hand dyed and then a variety of colours are braided together to create customized variations throughout. The work creates soft patterning that can be appreciated for long periods of intense visual investigation—perfect for an office setting where you’re in need of quiet contemplation.

Karen Chapnick, Colour Puzzle (1977)

There are also a number of tapestries in the collection that were produced in collaboration between Inuit artists and weavers of the Uqqurmiut Centre for Arts and Crafts in Pangnirtung. I particularly enjoy the collaborative work by artist Elisapee Ishulutaq and weaver Igah Etoangat that depicts a mother and daughter in an igloo from 1992.

The Canada Council Art Bank textiles are part of a rich history. Explore these and other textile works in our collection online—or contact one of our consultants to talk about how you can bring a part of this history into your work space.

About the Author:  Amy Jenkins

Amy Jenkins is the Head of the Canada Council Art Bank. She is responsible for the management of the Art Bank’s operations and delivery of its programs including: art rental, loans, exhibitions and outreach activities.



The Art Bank’s Summer Student finds Inspiration in the Collection

This summer I joined the Canada Council Art Bank as their summer student, and was tasked with updating digital images of over 1000 artworks from the collection. Having just completed my first year in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at Mount Allison University, this job furthered my awareness of artists working in Canada and inspired me to try new approaches in my own creative work.

In particular, some of the artists in the Art Bank collection I think you should check out include:

• Annie Kilabuk
• Marianne Nicolson
• Michael Belmore
• Eliza Griffiths
• Kelly Palmer
• Rafael Goldchain

In particular, three works in the Art Bank collection stood out to me:

Donald Reichert’s Untitled # 2 (1971-72): With his work, Reichert achieves an almost watercolour like appearance with acrylic, something I have attempted before but never achieved.
Kelly Palmer’s Toward North (2003): In this piece, Palmer brightens a dark and stormy day with a flash of colour. It reminds me of how powerful colour is and how it can strengthen a composition when used in the right way.
Mary Pratt’s Pears on a Green Glass Plate (1998): Mary Pratt is someone I look up to as an artist. She was a true master—not only in painting, but also printmaking. The way the colours blend together and how she builds the composition is incredible.

Donald Reichert, Untitled #2 (1971-72)

Kelly Palmer, Toward North (2003)

Mary Pratt, Pears on a Green Glass Plate (1998)

In addition to exploring the Art Bank collection this summer, I also learned about framing, conservation, and the handling of works. I look forward to drawing on everything I’ve learned in my studies this year and beyond.


About the Author: Megan Glauser

Megan Glauser just completed her first year in the Bachelor of Fine Arts program at Mount Allison University in Sackville, New Brunswick. Megan worked as a summer student at the Art Bank updating digital images of over 1000 artworks.


The Arts and Wellbeing: Art in the Workplace

What are some of the benefits of renting art from the Canada Council Art Bank? Our Arts and Wellbeing series looks at how the presence of art can have a positive impact on our lives—in the workplace and beyond.

In 2014, researcher Christina Smiraglia examined the reactions of employees and board members to art exhibited in their workplace.

According to Smiraglia’s study¹, the most common impact of the exhibited art was the promotion of social interactions: it provided a space for spontaneous conversation between co-workers and allowed them to learn more about one another.

Participants in the study said the art also enhanced their aesthetic environment and made them feel good about being at work.

Participants listed several other positive benefits of the art, including:

• Feeling inspired;
• A generally more positive attitude;
• Positive feelings towards the organization they worked for;
• New learning opportunities; and
• Intellectual stimulation.

Want to foster some of these positive outcomes in your workplace? Contact the Art Bank to discuss how you can bring works from the collection into your work environment.

Watch this video to find out more about the Art Bank’s art rental program

About the Author: Sonia Poisson
Sonia Poisson is a lecturer and freelance researcher specialising in the anthropology of art. She received an M.A. in Visual Anthropology from Goldsmiths College, University of London and an M.A. in Art History from Carleton University. She works on various historical and arts-related projects for television, documentaries and museum exhibitions.

¹Smiraglia, Christina. “Artworks at Work: The Impacts of Workplace Art.” Journal of Workplace Learning 26, no. 5 (2014): 284-295.


21 works of art to inspire, disrupt, and challenge: Awakening opens at Queen’s Park

The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, addressing the guests at opening night


The Art Bank collection is versatile: its works are rented out to office spaces and events, loaned to museums, and—sometimes—come together to create new exhibitions.

In May 2018, works from the Art Bank came together for Awakening, an exhibition organized by the Office of the Lieutenant Governor of Ontario in partnership with the Art Bank at Queen’s Park in Toronto.

Curated by author, innovator and global design consultant Bruce Mau, the exhibition focuses on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals—an action plan promoting and coordinating the implementation of internationally agreed development goals by 2030.

For this exhibition, Bruce Mau poses the important question, “Now that we can do anything, what will we do?”

Art certainly has an important role to play in answering this question. As the Canada Council’s Director and CEO, Simon Brault, reminded visitors at Awakening’s opening on May 1, the exhibition provides “an opportunity to engage with ongoing conversations around sustainable development, and also a point of departure for new conversations that will help us build the society we want to live in.”

The exhibition includes both large-scale works on canvas, exquisite prints and intimate photographs, including pieces by Germaine Arnaktauyok, Edward Burtynsky, Michael Snow and Shirley Wiitasalo—the latter three being past winners of the Governor General’s Awards in Visual and Media Arts (GGAVMA).

You can visit the exhibition on a guided tour of the stately rooms in the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite at Queen’s Park until May 31, 2019.  You can also download the bilingual catalogue that accompanies the exhibition—which includes essays on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and images of the works on display from the Art Bank.

If you are planning an exhibition and wish to include works from our collection, please contact the Art Bank to find out more about our loans program and broader outreach activities.

The focal point of the exhibition is Eleanor Bond’s imagined world in “IV Converting the Powell River Mill to a Recreation and Retirement Centre”, which hangs in the drawing room of the Lieutenant Governor’s Suite at Queen’s Park


Simon Brault, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Canada Council for the Arts, speaking at the opening of Awakening


Amy Jenkins, Head of the Art Bank, with The Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario


Antonia Hirsch’s simple black and white print, “World Map Project: Equal Countries A – Z”, hangs in the elegant dining room


About the Author:  Mike Steinhauer
Mike Steinhauer is the Manager of Exhibitions and Outreach with the Canada Council Art Bank. He is responsible for the loan program which allows Canadian and international galleries, museums and other cultural institutions to borrow artworks for group and solo exhibitions, as well as the Art Bank’s exhibition and outreach activities.


The Canada Council’s Art Bank Foregrounds the G7 Summit

The Canada Council’s Art Bank offers art rental and consultation services to enhance events, public and office spaces. For the 2018 G7 Summit, hosted by Canada, the Global Affairs Canada Summits Management Office selected the Art Bank to make sure the arts were showcased at this major international gathering.

Art speaks of G7 themes and Charlevoix landscape
Over 80 works from the Canada Council’s Art Bank foregrounded discussions between world leaders. Art Bank consultant Claudio Marzano curated the selection to emphasize the themes of the Summit—in particular “Advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment,” “Working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy,” and “Building a more peaceful and secure world.”

Marzano worked with Summit designers to make sure the works reflected the surrounding area—the picturesque region of Charlevoix, Quebec on the north shore of the Saint Lawrence River—and complemented the setting of the historic Manoir Richelieu hotel. That’s why his selection included works by Alfred Pellan, one of the best-known twentieth-century Quebec painters, who spent time in Charlevoix in the 1940s after he returned from training in Paris.

Two works by Alfred Pellan: Untitled/Sans titre (1960) on the far left; and Le Modèle (1943-47) on the far right.

The power of the arts
The arts have an important role to play in Canada’s presence on the international stage. They express the values of our country, foster conversations around topics that are important to Canadians, and offer shared experiences that develop connections between Canadians and citizens of other countries.

Take a look at some of the selected works that shared centre stage with the leaders at the Summit—and which are now available for rent.

Framing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment
The Art Bank installation emphasized the Summit theme of gender equality with half of the works by men artists and half by women artists.

And the works lining the main hall—a central artery for the Summit—included those by prominent and pioneering women artists in Canadian and Quebecois art histories, including Marcelle Ferron, Lise Gervais and Rita Letendre.

Pioneering Quebec women artists in the main hall: Marcelle Ferron’s La rive et l’écorce (1973) on the far left; and Rita Letendre’s Vers Cythère (1961) third from the left.

Overlapping Themes
At the end of the main hall, the Art Bank installed a grouping of works that centre on Sedna (Inuktitut: ᓴᓐᓇ, Sanna), goddess of the sea and marine animals in Inuit mythology. This display brought together the themes of both women’s empowerment and climate change and oceans. It also drew important attention to Indigenous cultures in Canada—and, in fact, over 50 works by Indigenous artists from the Art Bank travelled to Charlevoix for the Summit, including works by Norval Morrisseau, Pitseolak Ashoona, and Pudlo Pudlat.

A grouping of Sedna-related works, clockwise from the top: Egevadluq Ragee’s Cape Dorset Series – Woman in the sea (1977); Lasalie Joanasie’s Mermaid (2000); Annie Pitsiulak’s Sedna Luring a Fish (2002); and, Looter Paneak’s Sedna (2002).

A Recent Acquisition Takes Centre Stage
For the mantelpiece in the main meeting room—a meeting space exclusive to the G7 leaders—the Art Bank installed one of its most recent acquisitions: Katharine Harvey’s The Catch (2017). Harvey’s painting emphasizes the continued vibrancy of women artists in Canada—whose work the Canada Council Art Bank has been collecting from its earliest days.

Art Bank technicians install Katharine Harvey’s The Catch (2017) .

Contact us to find out how a Canada Council Art Bank consultant can help you curate these works for your event or space.


Art going to work: Recent acquisitions at the Art Bank Now for Rent

Last fall, the Art Bank attended Art Toronto, Canada’s international contemporary and modern art fair. At the fair, we showcased our collection and art rental program to potential clients. We also acquired five new artworks at the fair. These works—by emerging and mid-career artists from across Canada who were not yet represented in the Art Bank collection— are now available through our art rental program and we’ve started to install them at offices across the country. We take a look at these new works, and their creators, below.

Katharine Harvey, The Catch (2017), acrylic on canvas on board
This artwork will be on display at the G7 Summit in La Malbaie, Québec in June.

Katharine Harvey’s latest body of work expands on her interest in memory. Her paintings take inspiration from photographs in her family archive. She paints each image in a gestural but representational style. She then applies upwards of twenty layers of gel and paint to obscure and abstract the image beneath. In this process, she also builds a three-dimensional sense of depth and space. The resulting effect creates veils of colour that resemble light emanating through stained glass. The Catch is based on a photograph of Harvey’s father showing off a fish he caught at the Lake of Bays in Ontario.

Katherine Harvey has a BFA from Queen’s University and an MFA from the University of Victoria. She lives and works in Markham, Ontario.

Laurent Lamarche, Fossile Pétri 10 (2017), engraved plexiglass, aluminium, LED lighting
This artwork is available for rent at $720 per year.

Laurent Lamarche uses recuperated transparent plastic wrappers and kinetic principles to create sculptural installations that question the conditions and stakes involved in transforming materials. He heats, glues, stretches, bends, twists, and folds the plastic to shape objects that trigger out of the ordinary visual experiences. Recently, Lamarche suggested new ways of experiencing natural phenomena (such as light diffraction, aurora borealis, and bioluminescence) by magnifying transparent materials and using lasers in his art practice. The organisms and phenomena in his work evolve in fictional worlds that blur the boundaries between art and science, nature and artifice.

Lamarche, holds an MFA (2012) from the Université du Québec in Montréal and works in photography, sculpture and installation. He lives and works in Montréal.

Judy D. Shane, The Painted Photograph: Remnants, Remnant #475 v1 (2017), inkjet print
This artwork is installed at Sustainable Development Technology Canada in Ottawa.

Judy D. Shane uses focally stacked digital photographs to examine the micro world of the hand painted brushstroke as seen through the macro lens. She creates large-scale photographic composites which exhibit a three-dimensional realism and a hyper-materiality while remaining firmly situated in a two-dimensional format.

Judy D. Shane is a Vancouver-based artist. She graduated with a BFA from Emily Carr University in 2012. Her lens-based art practice is informed by her previous career as a visual effects compositor in the television and film industry.

Jimy Sloan, Juicy (2017), acrylic on canvas
This artwork is installed at Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association in Toronto.

Artist Jimy Sloan explores the material surface through points, lines and planes, and creates patterns and figuration representative of assembled elements of topography and drawn forms. Through his work, Sloan notes that he’s become, “aware of the potential of a broken image plane to create unique, visually rich environments that speak openly and engage with the time that we live in.”

Jimy Sloan is from Sackville, Nova Scotia. He graduated from NSCAD University in 2012 with a BFA, major in painting, and completed NSCAD’s New Glasgow Residency Program in 2013. He now lives and works in Prospect, Nova Scotia.

Kelly Wallace, Turning Squares (2016), pencil drawing on paper
This artwork is available for rent at $960 per year.

Artist Kelly Wallace’s drawings are precise, technical renderings of hyper-detailed scenes from his memory and imagination. Using only vintage lead pencils and a ruler, Wallace spends 200 to 300 hours on each drawing. Appearing to disintegrate before your eye, the labour-intensive nature of these delicate drawings is striking.

Kelly Wallace is based in London, Ontario. He has a BFA from the University of Guelph. Beside Myself: Kelly Wallace was on view at the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery in Sarnia, Ontario from February 2 to May 6, 2018.

About the Author:  Amy Jenkins

Amy Jenkins is the Head of the Canada Council Art Bank. She is responsible for the management of the Art Bank’s operations and delivery of its programs including: art rental, loans, exhibitions and outreach activities.


Visit the Art Bank during Doors Open

Visit the Art Bank during Doors Open Ottawa
Saturday, June 2, 2018 (Saturday only)
10am to 4pm

Canada Council Art Bank
921 St. Laurent Blvd

Wheelchair accessible. Limited parking available.

Join us on Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for our second open house held as part of Doors Open Ottawa!

We’re thrilled to offer the exclusive opportunity to visit the Art Bank and see the largest collection of contemporary Canadian art. For the first time, the Art Bank brings together close to 100 works of art to explore the notions of public transportation, urban development, migration, borders, sustainability, and the environment.  With the construction of the Ottawa Light Rail Transit system, the expansion of commuter bicycle lanes across Ottawa, and the ever-present roadwork, we are regularly reminded of how our movement about the city impacts one another.

Take a guided tour, explore the collection vault at your own pace, and ask our expert staff about anything from artworks to art handling.

This activity is free and open to the public. Please feel free to share our Facebook event with your networks!

Planning on visiting the Art Bank on June 2? Share your experience with us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the hashtags #DoorsOpenOttawa and #ArtBank.

Instagram: @artbank_banquedart

Twitter: @CanadaCouncil

Facebook: @CCartbank and @canadacouncil 



Constructed Identities: Unique Exhibition of Disability Art to open at the Canada Council for the Arts

The Canada Council for the Arts is pleased to announce the opening of a new exhibition – Constructed Identities – featuring the unique work of disabled artist Persimmon Blackbridge. Curated by Tangled Art + Disability, Constructed Identities is the first exhibition in the Âjagemô gallery that puts disability art at the heart of the presentation.

Constructed Identities marked the inaugural exhibit of Tangled Art + Disability in their new gallery space in Toronto; a groundbreaking moment for Tangled as an organization committed to cultivating Deaf, Mad and disability arts in Canada. Since then, this distinct display of Persimmon Blackbridge’s hand-crafted figures has toured around the country, landing in Ottawa for its premiere at Âjagemô.

CONSTRUCTED IDENTITIES by Persimmon Blackbridge

Exhibition Dates: January 24, 2018 to June 3, 2018 – 7am to 9pm – Free admission
Exhibition Opening: January 23, 2018 at 5:30pm to 7pm – A public opening reception will be held immediately following the Canada Council for the Arts Annual Public Meeting.
Location: Âjagemô 150 Elgin St, Ottawa

“The Canada Council for the Arts is committed to strengthening our support for the arts community by fostering a culture of participation, inclusion, and diversity. We are honoured to work with Tangled Art + Disability on this beautiful exhibition which contributes to a dialogue and celebration of difference.” – Tara Lapointe, Director of Outreach and Business Development, Canada Council for the Arts

“It has been a pleasure to once again share the unique artistry of Persimmon Blackbridge with a new audience. We welcome the vibrant conversations that will emerge from Constructed Identities’ exhibition at Canada Council for the Arts surrounding disability aesthetics and culture; affirming Tangled’s intent to boldly redefine how the world experiences art and those who create it.” – Barak adé Soleil, Artistic Director and Curator of Tangled Art + Disability

About the Exhibition
Constructed Identities features a large collection of small hand-crafted figures made from wood, metal, and found objects. Persimmon Blackbridge reshapes the meaning and aesthetics of disability as disruptive and satisfying. The figures reflect how disability and bodily difference, as well as race and gender difference, are essential to the aesthetics of the evolving human form. This accessible exhibition includes a tactile piece of art, ASL and LSQ vlogs, audio description, and works hung at a lower level in order to provide an experience inclusive of blind, low vision, Deaf, and disability communities.

About the Artist
From British Columbia, sculptor, writer, curator and performer Persimmon Blackbridge’s art has been shown across Canada, the United States and internationally.



Happy Holidays from the Art Bank

2017 was an exciting year at the Art Bank! Our Punctured Landscape exhibition travelled to the Art Museum of the Americas in Washington; we introduced many new rental clients across Canada, in London, UK, and in New York to contemporary Canadian art; we opened our doors to over 1000 guests for Doors Open Ottawa, and we helped galleries and museums with their Canada 150th exhibitions by loaning important artworks from the collection.

Wishing our clients, artists and supporters happy holidays! Looking forward to working with you in 2018!

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