Julie Druker | Nov 18, 2015

At their meeting on November 16 at the Barrie hall in Cloyne, members of the Cloyne and District Historical Society were treated to a special presentation by local artist Brian Lorimer about his Project Remembrance.

Lorimer grew up in Belleville, Ontario and made regular trips throughout his life to his family cottage located on Massasaganon Lake. He eventually moved to the area in 2002, where he met his wife Margaret. Lorimer was trained in art at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto and has had an impressive career. He started out designing exhibits for trade shows between 1984 and1989 before becoming a free lance artist.

It was a famous Toronto restauranteur, Peter Oliver, who gave Lorimer his first break by asking him to paint a huge mural for one of his many renowned restaurants. A series of other mural commissions for various locations in Canada and the United States inspired Lorimer to start his own mural business in 1995, called Lorimer Murals Inc. Since its inception, Lorimer has created hundreds of large scale murals, many of which measure 76 feet in length.

A trip to Asia in 2008 led to a series of works titled “Landscapes of Solitude”, which depict the people and places from that part of the world. In 2009 he painted his “City2Sunrise” series, and used the proceeds to help fund the building of a school at an orphanage in Cambodia. In 2010, a trip to Ethiopia inspired his “Omo Series”, comprised of various portraits of tribal culture from that country.

It was a friend of Lorimer's who first asked him to do a painting of Vimy Ridge, which led to his exploration of Canada's role in World War 1. That first painting inspired him to create 36 large scale works measuring 6 feet in width, and to celebrate the 100-year anniversary of the onset of WW1 with a project he titled as “Project Remembrance”.

The paintings were begun in November 2011, and were completed over a period of two and a half years. Painted in oils, Lorimer's palette is unconventional for paintings that depict war. His colours are far from muted and muddy - they are intense and vibrant, showing his intention to create works that are “explosive in both colour and energy”.

Influenced by Canadian artists like Alex Colville, the Group of Seven, and Charles Pachter, Lorimer's works are powerful and compelling and capture the intense activity and feelings that must come from experiencing war first hand. In an effort to better understand what soldiers living and fighting in the trenches experienced and to capture the feeling of that place and time, Lorimer hired a back hoe to excavate a 40 foot long by six foot trench on his property. “I wanted to get an idea of what it might have been like living and fighting in those conditions and the experience proved both therapeutic and cathartic for me.”

He also traveled to Belgium and France in 2013 to do further research for the project, an experience that he says left him with “the palpable emotions that the unprepared and overwhelmed soldiers must have felt”.

Lorimer says he painted the works from a very Canadian perspective and chose to focus on Canada's key contributions in WW1 like the battles at Vimy Ridge and the Third Battle of Ypres. “I am a proud Canadian and a big advocate for all things Canadian and have long believed that Canada first came onto the world stage in World War 1”.

Project Remembrance was 100% funded by Lorimer himself and he is selling the works to recoup some of the funds he spent. To date 20 of the 36 paintings have been sold. Also included in the project is a book titled “Project Remembrance” with pictures and descriptions of the works and the artist. The proceeds from Project Remembrance will go towards the Support Our Troops Fund, which helps support military families. For more about this impressive collection and/or to purchase a copy of Project Remembrance visit www.projectremembrance.ca

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