The collection of The Art Gallery of Peterborough began in 1973, with a gift of historical European and Canadian Paintings donated by the Peterborough Teachers College. These works had been part of the collection established for the Toronto Normal School by Egerton Ryerson in the 1850’s. The AGP Volunteers Committee initiated the first purchase made by the Art Gallery of Peterborough in 1977 when they raised funds, matched by the Province of Ontario, to buy a painting by Jack Shadbolt. They raised the money by “selling” one square inch of the painting at a time.
The collection now numbers over 1,400 objects including contemporary and historical paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs, mixed media works, both Canadian and international in origin. There is an emphasis on works on paper, drawing and prints, which includes silk screens, serigraphs, lithographs, etchings, woodcut and linocut prints. Local printmakers such as George Raab (Millbrook), Jean Nind (Peterborough) and Sheila Laidlaw-Radford (Buckhorn) are represented in the collection. Among the strengths of the AGP’s holdings are a comprehensive collection of paintings by Peterborough artist David Bierk (1944-2002) and Ronald Bloore (1925 – 2009). Works of Canadian historic significance include paintings and drawings by William Brymner, Horatio Walker, A.J. Casson, Arthur Lismer, Lawren Harris, and A.Y. Jackson.
In 1988, there was a major gift of 82 drawings by Ronald Bloore, which included significant works from the early 1960’s. Manitoba artist Ivan Eyre has donated a significant group of his drawings, and we have a comprehensive group of photo-maquettes by Montreal-based artist Bill Vazan.
In 1995, a private collection of 44 pieces with landscape-based subjects was donated by a Peterborough-based collector; included were paintings by Paterson Ewen, Allan Mackay, Vickey Marshall and Jim Reid, as well as photographs by Marlene Creates and Geoffrey James.
There has been particular focus on collecting works by significant Aboriginal artists from the region and across the country. Acquisitions include a sculpture by Mary Anne Barkhouse and a drawing installation by Michael Belmore. The works by these Minden-based regional artists will be a significant addition to the AGP’ s collection of work by First Nations artists, which includes Daphne Odjig, Carl Beam, Jane Ash Poitras, Michael Robinson and Rebecca Belmore.
Other recent acquisitions include work by Krisiti Malakoff, Sheila Butler, Nobuo Kubota, Peer Christensen, Gordon Raynor, and a significant donation of prints by senior printmaker Carl (J.C.) Heywood.