MARKHAM, ON – December 15, 2020 – The City of Markham is extremely pleased to welcome 474 works by Frederick Horsman Varley (F.H. Varley) home to the Varley Art Gallery of Markham both in time for the holidays and for the Group of Seven’s 100th anniversary year. This generous transfer from the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) almost doubles the permanent collection at F.H. Varley’s namesake gallery, located in the heart of historic Main Street Unionville, and offers exciting potential for display, education and research into F.H. Varley, the Group of Seven and Canadian art.

“The Varley Art Gallery of Markham is an important cultural destination in our city and we are extremely proud to welcome home Fred Varley’s artwork to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Group of Seven," said Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “I would like to thank the Art Gallery of Ontario for recognizing the importance of displaying his artwork in Unionville so residents and visitors alike can enjoy the significance of this legendary Canadian artist. These new works will undoubtedly increase the Gallery’s ability to celebrate Markham and our thriving community.”

This gift is immensely valuable to the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. The works are primarily on paper, sketches and drawings, and include a number of watercolour and oil sketches, as well as several sketchbooks. The majority are rapid observational sketches executed either on the street while people-watching, or produced en plein air that is, out in nature. Some of the works are detailed, while others are quite minimally rendered. Together, they speak to F.H. Varley’s sketching practice over time, and will contribute to our understanding of his artistic development and career.

"The Art Gallery of Ontario is home to a robust collection of works by the Canadian artist Frederick Horsman Varley,” said Georgiana Uhlyarik, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. “Kathleen McKay's generous donation of 474 objects and works to the AGO in the 1970s predates her foundational donations and commitment to the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. We are pleased to see these works now put in service of her ambitions, under the thoughtful care of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham.”

These works by F.H. Varley were received by the AGO in a series of seven gifts made by Kathleen Gormley McKay between 1971 to 1994, with the bulk of the material gifted in 1976, 1977 and 1979, long before the Varley Art Gallery of Markham opened its doors in 1997.

“The Varley Art Gallery of Markham staff are thrilled to receive this transfer,” said Niamh O’Laoghaire, Director of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. “Being present when the 11 boxes of material arrived from the AGO, watching them being opened and objects be individually unwrapped, has to be one of the more exciting moments I’ve experienced in my six years here at the Gallery. It has taken several years of behind-the-scenes work to get to this point and I extend my great thanks to the staff of the AGO for their assistance in making this wonderful event happen.”

Gift highlights:

  • Twenty-one drawings of the Arctic, which complement the 13 already in the Varley Art Gallery of Markham’s collection (includes drawings of icebergs, huskies and Inuit).
  • It includes the Study for Snow People, which is the preparatory drawing for the Varley Art Gallery of Markham’s watercolour of the same name.
  • One sketchbook and several drawings made during F.H. Varley’s 1954 trip to Russia, a period not represented in the Varley Art Gallery of Markham’s collection until now.
  • Several sketches of the back garden of the McKay Art Centre – located in the heart of historic Main Street Unionville – and some sketches of Kathleen Gormley McKay.
  • They demonstrate some of the key places F.H. Varley lived in and visited across the country, including British Columbia (Vancouver, Lynn Valley and Kootenay), Ontario (Unionville, Toronto, Doon, Ottawa and Trenton), Quebec (Gatineau and Montreal), Nunavut and Nova Scotia (Cape Breton).
  • Twenty-three drawings of animals (cows, horses, birds, etc.).
  • Ninety-two figure sketches – rapid drawings or character studies of various people including a crossing guard, a fisherman, visitors at a museum, of a student sketching.
  • Sixty-three studies of flora – trees, flowers and foliage.

“Understanding the range and possibilities of these additions is going to take time,” said Anik Glaude, Curator of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. “We have a lot of work to do in the short and mid-term around assessing the works’ condition, understanding their storage needs, arranging conservation where required, documenting them, overseeing matting and framing and readying them for display. We anticipate that we will be able to begin displaying them next summer. That will be an exciting day!”

The Varley Art Gallery of Markham is closed until further notice due to GREY-LOCKDOWN Zone COVID-19 restrictions. Bookings during the lockdown period have been cancelled. We look forward to the day we can restart our pre-booked self-guided tours and welcome guests back. Stay tuned on social media or at markham.ca/culture to get the latest information and updates about our reopening in 2021!


F. H. Varley, Artist Sketching at Window, n.d., graphite on paper     F.H. Varley, Foothills near Invermere, B.C., n.d., watercolour with graphite on paper

Images:
[1] F. H. Varley, Artist Sketching at Window, n.d., graphite on paper, 21.4 x 17.1 cm. Collection of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. Deaccessioned from the Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Mrs. Donald McKay, 1976, Donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1988.
[2] F.H. Varley, Foothills near Invermere, B.C., n.d., watercolour with graphite on paper, 30.5 x 40.6 cm. Collection of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. Deaccessioned from the Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Mrs. Donald McKay, 1976, Donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1988

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Markham’s Contact Centre continues to respond to inquiries about municipal services and programs at customerservice@markham.ca and 905.477.5530, Monday to Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM.

For information and updates about the novel coronavirus and affected City services, visit markham.ca/covid19.


Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti's Office:
Bryan Frois, Chief of Staff at bfrois@markham.ca or 416.567.1177.

All other media inquiries / interview requests for the City of Markham:
Jennifer Yap, Coordinator, Communications and Media Relations at jyap@markham.ca or 437.229.2450.

For COVID-19 announcements from the City of Markham:
Visit markham.ca/covid19 or listen to 105.9 The Region – Markham’s information and emergency radio station.

About Markham: Markham, an award-winning municipality with over 355,000 residents and the largest of nine communities in York Region, is home to over 650 corporate head offices and more than 1,500 high tech and life science companies. Markham is a leader in attracting foreign direct investment with more than 240 foreign companies located in the City. Founded in the 1790s, today Markham is Canada’s most diverse community and enjoys a rich heritage, outstanding community planning and services, and a vibrant local economy. Markham has received the Excellence Canada Gold Award for Organizational Quality & Healthy Workplace, and multiple heritage and environmental awards.  

About the Varley Art Gallery of Markham: The Varley Art Gallery of Markham is a vital cultural hub for artists and diverse communities. A municipal gallery, we create critical conversations about Canadian art and society. We inspire local and national audiences to engage with art through outstanding exhibitions and rich public and educational programs relevant to the communities we serve. We support artists from York region and seek to broaden access to the arts for diverse artists and cultural groups. We also share and celebrate the life and work of F.H. Varley, a founding member of the Group of Seven. The Varley Art Gallery is situated on the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples including the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe. We are committed to reconciliation, partnership and enhanced understanding.

Stay Connected: Visit our newsroom or search #MarkhamNews and #MarkhamEvents for the latest information on City programs, services and event.

MARKHAM, ON – December 15, 2020 – The City of Markham is extremely pleased to welcome 474 works by Frederick Horsman Varley (F.H. Varley) home to the Varley Art Gallery of Markham both in time for the holidays and for the Group of Seven’s 100th anniversary year. This generous transfer from the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) almost doubles the permanent collection at F.H. Varley’s namesake gallery, located in the heart of historic Main Street Unionville, and offers exciting potential for display, education and research into F.H. Varley, the Group of Seven and Canadian art.

“The Varley Art Gallery of Markham is an important cultural destination in our city and we are extremely proud to welcome home Fred Varley’s artwork to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Group of Seven," said Mayor Frank Scarpitti. “I would like to thank the Art Gallery of Ontario for recognizing the importance of displaying his artwork in Unionville so residents and visitors alike can enjoy the significance of this legendary Canadian artist. These new works will undoubtedly increase the Gallery’s ability to celebrate Markham and our thriving community.”

This gift is immensely valuable to the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. The works are primarily on paper, sketches and drawings, and include a number of watercolour and oil sketches, as well as several sketchbooks. The majority are rapid observational sketches executed either on the street while people-watching, or produced en plein air that is, out in nature. Some of the works are detailed, while others are quite minimally rendered. Together, they speak to F.H. Varley’s sketching practice over time, and will contribute to our understanding of his artistic development and career.

"The Art Gallery of Ontario is home to a robust collection of works by the Canadian artist Frederick Horsman Varley,” said Georgiana Uhlyarik, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario. “Kathleen McKay's generous donation of 474 objects and works to the AGO in the 1970s predates her foundational donations and commitment to the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. We are pleased to see these works now put in service of her ambitions, under the thoughtful care of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham.”

These works by F.H. Varley were received by the AGO in a series of seven gifts made by Kathleen Gormley McKay between 1971 to 1994, with the bulk of the material gifted in 1976, 1977 and 1979, long before the Varley Art Gallery of Markham opened its doors in 1997.

“The Varley Art Gallery of Markham staff are thrilled to receive this transfer,” said Niamh O’Laoghaire, Director of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. “Being present when the 11 boxes of material arrived from the AGO, watching them being opened and objects be individually unwrapped, has to be one of the more exciting moments I’ve experienced in my six years here at the Gallery. It has taken several years of behind-the-scenes work to get to this point and I extend my great thanks to the staff of the AGO for their assistance in making this wonderful event happen.”

Gift highlights:

  • Twenty-one drawings of the Arctic, which complement the 13 already in the Varley Art Gallery of Markham’s collection (includes drawings of icebergs, huskies and Inuit).
  • It includes the Study for Snow People, which is the preparatory drawing for the Varley Art Gallery of Markham’s watercolour of the same name.
  • One sketchbook and several drawings made during F.H. Varley’s 1954 trip to Russia, a period not represented in the Varley Art Gallery of Markham’s collection until now.
  • Several sketches of the back garden of the McKay Art Centre – located in the heart of historic Main Street Unionville – and some sketches of Kathleen Gormley McKay.
  • They demonstrate some of the key places F.H. Varley lived in and visited across the country, including British Columbia (Vancouver, Lynn Valley and Kootenay), Ontario (Unionville, Toronto, Doon, Ottawa and Trenton), Quebec (Gatineau and Montreal), Nunavut and Nova Scotia (Cape Breton).
  • Twenty-three drawings of animals (cows, horses, birds, etc.).
  • Ninety-two figure sketches – rapid drawings or character studies of various people including a crossing guard, a fisherman, visitors at a museum, of a student sketching.
  • Sixty-three studies of flora – trees, flowers and foliage.

“Understanding the range and possibilities of these additions is going to take time,” said Anik Glaude, Curator of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. “We have a lot of work to do in the short and mid-term around assessing the works’ condition, understanding their storage needs, arranging conservation where required, documenting them, overseeing matting and framing and readying them for display. We anticipate that we will be able to begin displaying them next summer. That will be an exciting day!”

The Varley Art Gallery of Markham is closed until further notice due to GREY-LOCKDOWN Zone COVID-19 restrictions. Bookings during the lockdown period have been cancelled. We look forward to the day we can restart our pre-booked self-guided tours and welcome guests back. Stay tuned on social media or at markham.ca/culture to get the latest information and updates about our reopening in 2021!


F. H. Varley, Artist Sketching at Window, n.d., graphite on paper     F.H. Varley, Foothills near Invermere, B.C., n.d., watercolour with graphite on paper

Images:
[1] F. H. Varley, Artist Sketching at Window, n.d., graphite on paper, 21.4 x 17.1 cm. Collection of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. Deaccessioned from the Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Mrs. Donald McKay, 1976, Donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1988.
[2] F.H. Varley, Foothills near Invermere, B.C., n.d., watercolour with graphite on paper, 30.5 x 40.6 cm. Collection of the Varley Art Gallery of Markham. Deaccessioned from the Art Gallery of Ontario. Gift of Mrs. Donald McKay, 1976, Donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1988

-30-

Markham’s Contact Centre continues to respond to inquiries about municipal services and programs at customerservice@markham.ca and 905.477.5530, Monday to Friday between 8 AM and 5 PM.

For information and updates about the novel coronavirus and affected City services, visit markham.ca/covid19.


Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti's Office:
Bryan Frois, Chief of Staff at bfrois@markham.ca or 416.567.1177.

All other media inquiries / interview requests for the City of Markham:
Jennifer Yap, Coordinator, Communications and Media Relations at jyap@markham.ca or 437.229.2450.

For COVID-19 announcements from the City of Markham:
Visit markham.ca/covid19 or listen to 105.9 The Region – Markham’s information and emergency radio station.

About Markham: Markham, an award-winning municipality with over 355,000 residents and the largest of nine communities in York Region, is home to over 650 corporate head offices and more than 1,500 high tech and life science companies. Markham is a leader in attracting foreign direct investment with more than 240 foreign companies located in the City. Founded in the 1790s, today Markham is Canada’s most diverse community and enjoys a rich heritage, outstanding community planning and services, and a vibrant local economy. Markham has received the Excellence Canada Gold Award for Organizational Quality & Healthy Workplace, and multiple heritage and environmental awards.  

About the Varley Art Gallery of Markham: The Varley Art Gallery of Markham is a vital cultural hub for artists and diverse communities. A municipal gallery, we create critical conversations about Canadian art and society. We inspire local and national audiences to engage with art through outstanding exhibitions and rich public and educational programs relevant to the communities we serve. We support artists from York region and seek to broaden access to the arts for diverse artists and cultural groups. We also share and celebrate the life and work of F.H. Varley, a founding member of the Group of Seven. The Varley Art Gallery is situated on the traditional territories of Indigenous peoples including the Haudenosaunee and Anishnaabe. We are committed to reconciliation, partnership and enhanced understanding.

Stay Connected: Visit our newsroom or search #MarkhamNews and #MarkhamEvents for the latest information on City programs, services and event.