The story of the Elliot Lake Arts Club is as colourful as an Impressionist painting. In the early 1950’s, a group of six artists living in Elliot Lake got together to paint, calling themselves “The Group of Six”, a spinoff of name of the famous Canadian Group of Seven. These painters soon expanded to include other artists and thus became the Elliot Lake Art Club. A constitution was adopted in 1965, the year the Club joined the Northern Ontario Art Association (NOAA). In 1975, artisans from other disciplines such as pottery and weaving were invited to join, thus making the Club a multi-media group. Its mission was and still is ¨to encourage active participation in, and an appreciation of, the fine arts and crafts in Elliot Lake and vicinity”.
Since its inception in 1975, the Elliot Lake Arts Club has been a vital and active organization in the Northeastern Ontario region.
- 1977 – Arts Club, along with the Elliot Lake Centre d’Elliot Lake, hosted the first regional conference of the Ontario Crafts Council, including a juried show, workshops, banquet and guest speakers for craftspeople across this region.
- 1988, a second successful conference in conjunction with the OCC, entitled Northern Exposure was also presented. A subsequent conference, Hand & Spirit and exhibitions in conjunction with the Ontario Crafts Council took place in 2007, with the exhibition being shown in Toronto at the OCC Gallery on Queen Street.
- From 1982-87, the Handwork Festival was organized by the Arts Club, taking place in Collins Hall. Artists and craftspeople from across Northeastern Ontario were invited to set up booths to display and sell their work to the public. Children’s workshops were offered so parents could browse the fine arts and crafts on display, live musical entertainment was included, and puppet shows were a part of the event which brought people from all over the region.
- In 1981, the Arts Club undertook a mural project for the children’s floor at St. Joseph’s Hospital, and members produced five 4 X 8 ft. murals to brighten up the pediatric ward. Children’s workshops have been a part of the club’s service to Elliot Lake over the years, with Club members working in schools and offering special workshops in conjunction with events in the community such as the Jewel in the Wilderness Festival.
- In partnership with the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour, The Elliot Lake Arts Club hosted two very successful watercolour symposiums in 1996 and again in 2001, including exhibitions, workshops, guest speakers, and demonstrations that included artists, school groups and the public. Both of these events brought artists from all over Ontario to participate.
- WASOON, a northern conference for the Handspinners and Weavers of Ontario, has been organized by the Weavers from the Arts Club on three different occasions. Workshops, guest speakers, and an exhibition of textiles from handspinners and weavers highlighted these weekend evnts.
- In 2004, the Elliot Lake Arts Club participated in the Water Project in co-operation with White Mountain Academy of the Arts and the Ontario Society of Artists. A curated exhibition of arts & crafts with the theme of water, plus a poster contest for all the schools in Elliot Lake were part of the project. Children responded to the challenge with drawings and paintings of what water meant to them, with a brief written description accompanying the artwork.
- In addition to these special events, the Arts Club has organized an annual Christmas Show and Sale every year since 1975
- Annual arts and crafts workshops, often bringing in instructors from out of town to share their special skills with the community. These are open to everyone, not just members.
- In memory Viola Moody, one of the original “Group of Six”, the Arts Club has awarded an annual scholarship to a graduating student from one of the secondary schools in Elliot Lake since 1980. A piece of artwork was purchased from each winner to form a unique permanent collection of student artwork that was on display at the Elliot Lake Public Library. The last time this was awarded was in 2019.
- From 1985 – 2004, the Elliot Lake Arts Club organized the annual Deer Trail Studio Tour in the fall that included artists and craftspeople in Iron Bridge, Blind River and Elliot Lake. Lodges, businesses, public buildings and artist’s studios were used as locations that hosted up to 45 artists and craftspeople in a 2-day event that brought over 2000 people to this region each year. With the change of name to Arts on the Trail in 2005, the Arts Co-ordinator for the City organized and promoted the event, along with a group of volunteers. Members of the Arts Club have continued to be active participates in the event from 2005 – 2019.
- As a member of the Northern Ontario Artists Association, the Arts Club has been presenting the annual juried shows of the NOAA since 1976 for the community to enjoy. Forty works from artists from communities across Northeastern Ontariohave been featured in this exhibition. The Arts Club has also hosted the AGM of the NOAA, plus organized the opening of the touring exhibition of the NOAA in Elliot Lake on at least three occasions.
- Realizing the need for artists and craftspeople to put their best foot forward, North of 17, a juried exhibition of arts & crafts, was organized by the Elliot Lake Arts Club on 5 different occasions, the last time in 2005 as part of the city’s 50th anniversary celebrations.
- Fundraising has always been a part of the Arts Club. Events such as Soup and Bowl as well as “The Boss Buys Lunch” and various art auctions have contributed to our finances each year.
- “SUMMER ARTS”, a project of a subcommittee of the Arts Club, has organized and presented three successful years of arts & crafts workshops offered during 2 weeks in August. Modelled on the Haliburton School of the Arts, we feel this has great potential to attract more and more participants each year, building upon our initial success.