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THE GLOBE AND MAIL, Saturday, November 12, 1988

Artist Surprises Gallery by Donating Paintings

By Kay Kritzwiser, Special to The Globe and Mail

[cf: R.L. Bloore Drawings 1960-1988 - by Illi Tamplin
and: Complete Tamplin Collection Image Gallery]

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. - For much of his professional life, Toronto artist Ronald L. Bloore has searched for variations of color in black or white, until a recent evening when he slathered the Art Gallery of Peterborough with a brushfull of the kind of colors that make up a rainbow.

The evening marked the opening of an exhibition titled R. L. Bloore: Drawings 1960-1988, and the artist had a surprise in store. He announced that he bequeathed the show's 78 drawings to the gallery's permanent collection.

"What's more," he said, "I wish to designate the 78 works as the Illi-Maria Tamplin collection (Tamplin has been director of the gallery since 1977). Here are my reasons: This exhibition of my work was completely hers. It was her development, her selection, her concept. She never faltered in the development of the show, though often she was challenged by the enormity of the decisions. She selected the frames, she wrote and designed the catalogue. She even corrected my biography! And she hung the works without interference from the old man himself - me. She also secured the funds necessary to organize and install the exhibition." His laugh covering up his own emotion, he added, "And further works will be added as I paint and draw into the sunset."

The unexpected announcement was received with a standing ovation.

Instead of coming down Nov. 27 as originally scheduled, the exhibition will remain on one wall or another at the handsome gallery. Loans to the exhibition, of course, will be returned.

The Bloore drawings provide an exquisite insight into the artist's thoughtful concerns since the sixties. The first drawing dates from his Saskatchewan experience as a member of the Regina Five, when he painted on the shore of Lac la Ronge. But here his vision went far beyond the traditional rock and tree and dark water. The drawing, which has white lines radiating out from a mysterious black hole at the centre, has become a kind of leitmotif for Bloore's cool yet passionate affair with outer space.

Its significance was recognized in 1986 when Tamplin began her research for an exhibition of Bloore's paintings, maquettes and drawings shown at the Peterborough gallery from Feb. 27 to March 23, 1986. She became aware of the cool, reflective Bloore method of working. For the current exhibition, her goal was to make this insight more easily accessible to viewers. In the beginning, she chose formal drawings from his series developed since the sixties.

"But as research into the work progressed," she explains in the catalogue, "it become evident that there were many threads that interconnected from work to work and cycle to cycle. I have chosen several drawings from each series to allow for a more comprehensive overview. "

These threads, what Bloore calls his "doodles" on scraps of paper and notations on working drawings, are of vital interest to the collection. His pencilled notes often give visual logic and the kind of magic simplicity that informs so much of his work.

Like so many public galleries outside Toronto, the Art Gallery of Peterborough began as an idea bugging a few persistent art lovers, in this case, three representatives from the University Women's Club and three from the Women's Art Association. On Feb. 13, 1973, they put a proposal for an art gallery before city council.

A 15-person board of volunteers was formed, and Peterborough Teachers College donated an art collection. Exhibitions were held in the public library until the next major step, on May 7, 1974, when the Art Gallery of Peterborough was declared a non-profit gallery with an elected board of directors and a professional director and staff.

A fund-raising campaign was inevitable. In a three-year period, 796 donors pledged $116,000, surpassing a $100,000 goal. Additional grants came from the Canada Council and Wintario. Peterborough's city council made available an imposing white house that once belonged to businessman David Foster. The house, with its entrance hall and panelled lounge facing Little Lake, is still the welcoming core of the gallery. It fits amicably into the new wing designed by Crank and Boake and opened in 1979.

[cf. also:
R.L. Bloore Drawings 1960-1988 - by Illi Tamplin
and also:
Complete Tamplin Collection Image Gallery]

Bloore on Canadian Art -1951
Bloore on Folk Art -1960
Bloore at the Wyers Retro -1989
Bloore at the Morton Retro -1994

Bloore at Eighty - by Illi Tamplin -2005
Canadian Encyclopedia - and the Oxford -1998
Five Interviews - by Robert Enright -1993
Tamplin Collection Donation - by Kay Kritzwiser -1988
R.L. Bloore Drawings 1960-1988 - by Illi Tamplin -1988
Regina Five In Creemore - with Olive Price-Adams -1981
Bloore - and contemporary art criticism - by Barry Lord -1966
Bloore - at the Here And Now - by Robert Fulford -1962
Win Hedore in Time Magazine - I Remember Dada -1960

Not Without Design - by Terrence Heath -1991

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