The Centre for All Canadians
John Hartman, Sara Tilley, Elliston, 2017, oil on linen, 121.9 x 137.2 cm. Collection of Dennis Pieprz. Photo: Joseph Hartman

John Hartman: Many Lives Mark This Place

John Hartman, Sara Tilley, Elliston, 2017, oil on linen, 121.9 x 137.2 cm. Collection of Dennis Pieprz. Photo: Joseph Hartman
Renowned Canadian painter and printmaker John Hartman captures the intimate relationship between Canadian authors and their personal places of inspiration in large-scale portraits.

A remarkable mosaic of the literary and physical space of Canada.

  • Ian M. Thom

John Hartman has long been interested in the connection between people and place. With this most recent body of work, he has captured the intimate relationship Canadian authors have with their personal places of inspiration. Authors possess the magic to create portraits of characters and places in the mind’s eye of their readers. By evoking the unique identity of a particular setting, authors can shape the reader’s understanding and associations to a place, even if wholly imagined.

Hartman’s own reading interests directed his first choices of authors to paint. As the project grew in scope, so did the list of authors. The authors, in turn, chose the landscape backdrops of their portraits, places that were important to each of them—cities, towns and wilderness from Tofino, British Columbia to Elliston, Newfoundland. Hartman then asked each author to write about the place in their portrait. The resulting portraits and stories have been published in the accompanying book.

This project celebrates the richness of Canada’s literary fabric. It also speaks to the power of the imagination, and the diverse and striking landscapes that link us altogether

This exhibition is accompanied by the book Many Lives Mark This Place. Each author has contributed a short piece of writing describing how a specific place has influenced their life and work. Esteemed senior curator, Ian M. Thom, has written the introduction and John Hartman’s own musings on the engagement with each author is included. The book is available for sale at the Gallery reception desk.

John Hartman was named a Member of the Order of Canada in 2021.

The exhibition is organized and circulated by the Woodstock Art Gallery, Ontario.

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