National Gallery of Canada – Ottawa
More is Less
Louis Bourgeois’ ‘Maman’ in the plaza near the entrance – one of seven of her spider sculptures worldwide. The National Gallery, with its glass tower behind, was designed by Moshe Safdie. It nods to the Parliament Buildings across the Ottawa River.
I always enjoy seeing Joyce Wieland’s work at the Gallery, whom they have titled Canada’s first feminist artist. The back story on this piece is interesting and speaks to a time in the Canadian political landscape and Prime Minister Trudeau, who brought the National to fruition in 1988.
When I see the work of the Group of Seven so strongly represented here I think of Emily Carr. She was another unique woman and accomplished painter. She struggled and worked very much as an outsider in her time. She stood on Government St. in Victoria selling her small clay pots to make ends meet.
I’ve visited the National Gallery many times. On this day, a Saturday, the grand interior spaces had a kind of chilly austerity. They were between exhibits. The place can feel daunting with so few exhibits. I spent my time there with the many exceptional pieces in their permanent collection that now seem like old friends.
I went looking for lunch at 2 PM. I look forward to having a good meal when I visit museums. You can work up quite an appetite walking the halls of the National. I could write a wee book on some of the terrific restaurants, cafes and cafeterias in art museums I’ve eaten in over the years. In the National’s enormous glass rotunda, heaps of metal chairs were piled up by the Cafeteria des Beaux-Arts. I was turned away by a closed sign. Cafe l’Entree, which occupies a wonderful light filled space on the river side, was a disappointment. More like a middling cafeteria with a stale bun kind of food service on offer.
The gift shop has a good selection of books. You can also find an unending supply of Group of Seven mugs, ties, scarves, fridg magnets, posters, place mats, key chains…
Signs of life in the Gallery were people visiting for the animation festival.
Signs of joy with Joe Fafards ‘Running Horses’ as I trot off toward the Byward Market.