A conundrum: the canoe as art (and a drum)

Perhaps it is because of their elegant silhouette or likely it is due to the strong and complex associations we have with them that canoes have unwittingly inspired many artistic efforts over the past century or so. Indeed, the elegant pictograph left on a rock face near Pictured Lake in northern Ontario and which was adopted by the Canadian Canoe Museum as its logo takes us back much farther than that.

Some months ago, we became aware of a local artist who had incorporated a full-sized canoe to serve as the frame for a monster of a kettledrum. For his prototype, artist David Hynes had sewn a number of hides together and laced them over the hull of a 16-foot Grumman to provide a whimsical but very engaging, interactive piece. To the eye, the organic shape of the stretched skin and the pattern of its lacing contrasted strikingly with the symmetrical (if slightly battered) form of the canoe’s hull. Did I mention that, with a 1200-litre soundbox, it also had a heck of a voice?

David was surprised by the crushing power of the skins (the lacings pulled the bottom of the aluminum hull upwards towards the drumhead, “hogging” the hull somewhat) and has recently brought to us the reinforced mark II version, or rather, “Conundrum II”.

The canoe has served as muse for other artists as well and we are very excited to gather and install several interactive art pieces within the sympathetic context of our museum’s galleries, to open on Family Day February 18th, 2013. Also featured in this show is an elegant and award-winning structure that blends the complex elements of a canoe’s framework with the religious guidelines for the sukkah (a temporary hut built and used during the Jewish Festival of Sukkot) and named by its creator “the Sukkanoe”. Another innovative piece to be included is named “Myth of the Steersman” and is an engaging multi-media installation inspired by the art and passions of Tom Thomson.

For more information, please watch for updates on this museum’s website.