A Northern Silver Mine, Franklin Carmichael (Canada, 1890-1945), 1930. Oil on canvas, 101.5 x 121.2 cm.

Franklin Carmichael was born in Orillia and studied art in Toronto at the Ontario College of Art and Design. He began working at Grip Ltd. in Toronto alongside Tom Thompson, Arthur Lismer, and Frank Johnston. Those working at Grip were joined by Lawren Harris, J. E. H. MacDonald, Frederik Varley and A. Y. Jackson to create the most recognizable group of Canadian artists, the Group of Seven. Their goal was summarized by Carmichael who said, “We shall yet develop a movement that will be distinctive as our native landscape.”
“Kiga ojitomin madikamigiziwin ke nisodawenagwag kidanishinābewinān enakamagag.” Algonquin

This painting is a composite of several studies done in Cobalt rather than providing a snapshot of the town. It shows rolling hills, flowing water and a cloud-streaked sky, giving an impression of harmony between man and nature. Cobalt was the birthplace of hard rock mining in Canada and that industry is romanticized here, promoting the glory and riches that successful mining operations can bring. This idea, that the natural resources of Canada will provide its people with abundance was important to the formation of a national identity.

A Northern Silver Mine, Franklin Carmichael, 1930. Oil on canvas

The water and exposed rock reflect the sky, framing a fairytale depiction of the town of Cobalt that lies nestled in the rolling green hills. The headframe of the mine is a clean geometric form in warm rich earth tones that reach out from the cool grey of the rocks surrounding its base. This painting showcases Carmichael’s love of bold, bright colours used in his landscapes as seen in his other well-known paintings. However, A Northern Silver Mine is unique in that he did not use the muted tones he often selected when depicting buildings and structures (this can be seen in his other work, Houses, Cobalt, also featured in the tour). Rather A Northern Silver Mine retains the vibrant shades and almost fantasy-like representation of nature and extends it to the representation of the head frame as well which links the nature and industry together.

We have four other locally-inspired works of art from the Group of Seven that we would like to tell you about:

Arthur Lismer, Temagami Portage, 1945, oil on canvas
Autumn Cobalt, A.Y. Jackson, 1935. Oil on Wood
Houses, Cobalt, Franklin Carmichael, c. 1931-1932. Linocut
Ontario Mining Town, Cobalt, A.Y. Jackson, 1933. Oil on wood

Telling you about the Group of Seven is a group effort being made by these partners:

City of Temiskaming Shores
Destination Northern Ontario
Northeastern Ontario, Canada
Province of Ontario
Temiskaming Art Gallery