Arthur Shilling, Ojibway Dreams (young girl in dream), (detail), c.1984, Oil on Canvas, 76.2 x 101.6 cm, Estate of Arthur Shilling, Photo: Michael Cullen, TPG Digital Arts Toronto


Organized and Circulated by the Art Gallery of  Peterborough

Curated by William Kingfisher

Arthur Shilling wrote in his 1986 book of paintings and prose, The Ojibway Dream: “Time is so precious. I’m under constant pressure from within. Like a volcano, grumbling and rumbling continually….I don’t close my eyes except when I sleep, and then there are dreams, color again.”[1]

Curator William Kingfisher focuses the exhibit on the period 1976 – 86 in which Shilling’s paintings and drawings became bolder and stronger. His skill using bold colours of red, brown, orange, green and turquoise, his combination of Western painting techniques with traditional Anishinaabe imagery, his insistence on speaking his own voice, point to a unique artist whose work reveals the incredible richness of Indigenous culture. To Shilling, art was transformative – a tool to imagine other possibilities of existence in contemporary life.

Shilling was at the height of his artistic skill during this incredibly creative period. Suffering from ill health, Shilling died too young, ending his flourishing career. With this exhibition Shilling is recognized as a critically important artist and visionary.

Many of the works in Arthur Shilling: The Final Works have not been shown publicly before. Works have been borrowed from the Shilling Estate as well as many private and public collections. Together they document Shilling’s commitment to telling his story, culminating in a 30-foot mural entitled The Beauty of My People. As Robert Houle states in his publication essay, “Once in a generation an artist comes into our midst and captures an inspirational collective identity. Arthur Shilling was such an artist.”

A catalogue is in production which will be launched towards the end of the exhibit, available in English, French and Anishinaabemowin. The publication will include essays by curator William Kingfisher, Robert Houle, and Wanda Nanibush. The AGP wishes to thank the Canadian Heritage, Museum Assistance Program for supporting the exhibit and publication.

Chi miigwech to the supporters of Arthur Shilling: The Final Works.

The Art Gallery of Peterborough thanks the following institutions for their generous support of Arthur Shilling: The Final Works. The Department of Canadian Heritage, Museum Assistance Program supported the exhibition and publication. The Ontario Arts Council, Arts Education Projects Grant supported the development of an online education component. The Canada Council for the Arts, Grants to Aboriginal Curators for Residencies in the Visual Arts supported the initial exhibition research and development.

We thank the Chief and Council of Chippewas of Rama First Nation, of which Arthur Shilling was a member, for supporting the conservation and framing of works from the Shilling Estate.

We acknowledge the contributions of Thomas G. Beckett and Beckett Fine Art Limited as a representative for the Arthur Shilling Estate.

The AGP thanks the many private and public lenders who graciously loaned artworks for this exhibition.

We are grateful to Millie, Bewabon, and Travis Shilling for lending the works from the Ojibway Dream series and the mural. Their insight and commitment have been invaluable to the realisation of this exhibition.

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