Female Self-Representation and the Public Trust: Mary E. Wrinch and the AGW Collection

May 30 – August 16, 2015

Mary Wrinch, Sawmill Dorset

Mary Wrinch, Sawmill Dorset / Scierie dans le Dorset, c. / v. 1926, oil on canvas / huile sur toile, 83.7 x 86.2 cm / 83,7 x 86,2 cm., Gift of the artist / Don de l’artiste, 1959, Collection of the Art Gallery of Windsor / Collection de la galerie d’art de Windsor, 1959.006

Opening reception: June 4, 5:30 pm

Mary Evelyn Wrinch (1877-1969) was an important artist working in Toronto during the first half of the twentieth century. As a single woman she earned her living as an art educator, presiding over the art department at Bishop Strachan School, Toronto where she worked from 1901 to 1936. Prior to the Group of Seven’s interest in Ontario’s northern landscapes, Wrinch was an outdoor enthusiast and owned a twostorey cottage at Kingwood, Lake of Bays, where she canoed and sketched. Her work in that geography included her painting wilderness and industrial scenes.

As artist, educator and property owner, Mary Wrinch was an atypical woman for her generation. Trained initially in the art of the miniature, she moved on to paint in oil on panel boards and on enlarged stretched canvases beginning in the 1910s, followed by printmaking in the 1920s. Wrinch’s work is marked by a confidence in working in diverse media and a strong command over form, line and colour in the modernist tradition. Wrinch eventually married prominent artist and architect George Agnew Reid (1860-1947) in 1922 following the death of his first wife Mary Hiester (1854-1922). Many of Wrinch’s prints were the result of her forays around Wychwood Park where she resided with Reid in his landmark Arts and Crafts home, the “Upland Cottage,” and where the artist-couple were to spend the remainder of their lives.

Mary Wrinch’s marriage to Reid folded her into a complex artist-couple dynamic. As this exhibition explores, before attending to her own legacy in public art collections, she first found herself addressing the Mary Hiester’s career followed by George Reid’s. While exploring Wrinch’s multi-media art practice, this show focuses on the formation of her public collection representation at the Art Gallery of Windsor. The development of the collection came to fruition through a long acquaintance with former AGW Director-Curator, Kenneth Saltmarche, whom she first met when he was a student at the Ontario College of Art. This exhibition re-opens her practice for study and profiles the work of an important artist through the lens of artist-couple histories and gender analysis.

The exhibition is accompanied by the e-publication Female Self-Representation and the Public Trust: Mary E. Wrinch and the AGW Collection, authored by Dr. Catharine M. Mastin, supplied in downloadable PDF format here.

Dr. Catharine M. Mastin, Exhibition Curator

Art Gallery of Windsor

Organized and circulated by the Art Gallery of Windsor