Listening to Art

11.01: Paraskeva Clark, On Hahn's Island

Download (MP3).

Listening to Art, by William Denton.

Volume eleven, number one: On Hahn’s Island by Paraskeva Clark.

Hello, and welcome to Listening to Art. I’m William Denton.

Paraskeva Clark was born in Russia in 1898 and moved to Canada after marrying a Canadian in 1931. She lived in Toronto until she died in 1986. Six months after arriving, in December 1931, she saw a show of landscapes at the Art Gallery of Toronto, as it was then called, by artists from across Canada, but mostly the Group of Seven. I quote from Perfect Red: The Life of Paraskeva Clark by Jane Lind (pp. 79–81):

Of course, as she looked at the paintings on the walls of the Art Gallery of Toronto, she compared the work to what she had seen in Europe. Paraskeva discovered the strong grip landscape painting had in Canada, something that continued into the next decade. “She could not fathom the idea of a modern art movement devoted exclusively to landscape painting, the style of which she felt was overly design oriented.” She did not yet know enough about Canada to understand the strong force of the physical geography in the Canadian psyche as the reason for the preoccupation of these artists searching for a Canadian identity, with the goal of creating an art for the people of Canada.…

Over the years, when she spoke about Canadian painting she developed something of a mantra that reflected what she thought. “Landscapes, landscapes, landscapes,” she complained, emphatically cutting the air with her hand. “Nothing but the bloody Group of Seven.” And yet, ironically, she, too, would paint landscapes in her effort to claim Canada as her own, and as a way of finding the similarities between her two northern countries as she struggled to find her place here and put down her roots.

This is a painting, oil on hardboard, 33.8 cm wide by 25.6 cm high.

Now let’s listen to On Hahn’s Island by Paraskeva Clark, recorded the Art Gallery of Ontario, in Toronto, on 22 April 2022.

Waveform of the field recording.

That was On Hahn’s Island by Paraskeva Clark. I hope you enjoyed listening to it as much as I did.

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All web sites accessed as of date of publication.

Boyanoski, Christine. Paraskeva Clark: Life and Work. Toronto: Art Canada Institute, 2016.

Lind, Jane. Perfect Red: The Life of Paraskeva Clark. Toronto: Cormorant Books, 2009.

Wikipedia, s.v. “Paraskeva Clark,”