In a previous post I mentioned my deep dive into the Canadian War Art Program. My reading and research was leading up to an art residency in Sicily with 13 Feet off the Ground last fall. The art residency itself was focused on painting murals in Graniti, but I did a detour and visited the War War II Museum in Catania and the Canadian War Cemetery in Agira and I also went on a road trip looking for some of the spots Canadian artist William Ogilvie sketched.

According to my research, William Ogilvie was the only official artist sent to Sicily by Canada. With the help of the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, I was able to print off some of his sketches before my trip. I am now working on a series of new paintings inspired by that road trip. It was interesting to take in the beautiful rolling hill landscape of Sicily back in 2016 when I was on vacation without research and just enjoying Sicily… and then again in 2017 with the new knowledge of the Canadian history that took place on these hillsides from 1943. It is overwhelming to think about what it was like on foot or in tanks, while I struggled on the winding roads in my rental car. The landscape takes on new stories.

Artists Carol McQuaid and Alison Keenan who are part of 13 Feet Off the Ground came along for the drive. Here is a sneak peak of some of the adventures this project took…

Canadian display in the Cantania War Museum I visited in October


Canada did not have its familiar maple leaf flag – so Canadian soliders had red patches on their sleeves. Same as shown in Ogivie’s paintings


Canadian Cemetary in Agira

Canadian Cemetery in Agira, Sicily – I visited in November 2017. 490 Canadians are buried here from 1943. I am proud to have paid my respects here.


I found a spot where Ogilvie may have sketched back in 1943. I found out later from a local (with my limited Italian) that these buildings are government railroad buildings that legally must be pink. Upon further reading of Mark Zuelke’s book “Through Blood and Sweat” I found out that the Canadians called these buildings “school houses”


A very patient Alison Keenan and Carol McQuaid who joined me on my adventures. As you can tell from the backdrop – Sicily landscapes were stunning wherever we went

I have many more photos and stories from the road trip to work from, but wanted to share the adventure as I paint.


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