April 5, 2022

A Canadian Aviation Art Legacy

Since the beginning of aviation, artists the world over have been drawing or painting aircraft to immortalize the exploits of those fascinating machines. Canada is no exception, with artists depicting our aviation history, whether as graphic artists in the aviation industry or as fans of aviation and the arts.

In May 1984, during that year’s Expo Air air show, fifteen artists from all over Canada gathered to display their art and our history in paintings at the Montréal‑Mirabel International Airport, Quebec. This first major Canadian aviation art exhibit, called Canadian Aviation in Paintings, featured 84 paintings over three days and planted a seed with the artists to produce more exhibitions to share their passion. From that event, the Canadian Aviation Artists Association was created, known today as the Canadian Aerospace Artists Association.

Around the same time, another major project was taking shape that would become the Godfrey Stewart Pasmore art collection. Founder of the Canadian Aviation Heritage Centre (CAHC), now the Montreal Aviation Museum (MAM), Godfrey Pasmore had a special interest in the development of aviation in Quebec and in his family history. He especially wanted to preserve the history of his father’s long aviation career, culminating as Hubert Pasmore became president of Fairchild Aircraft in Longueuil, Quebec.

To accomplish his dream of creating this very special collection, Godfrey began by commissioning well‑known Canadian aviation artists to depict the beginnings of our aviation heritage through a series of original paintings and some model dioramas to enhance his collection. Fifteen years later, his collection was complete. In 1999, during the inaugural vernissage at the National Aviation Museum (now Canada Aviation and Space Museum) in Ottawa, Ontario, Godfrey described his dream:

“This collection highlights a part of Canada’s early flying heritage and honours a number of persons who contributed to our past aviation mosaic during the years 1914–1948. Research behind this project exposes the vast number of individuals who participated through the period in various ways. My father Hubert Martyn Pasmore’s career serves as a catalyst for this particular time span.” (CAHC PlaneTalk, Nov. 2011).

 

 

The complete collection consisted of twenty‑six original paintings, one reproduction, seventeen text panels, and seven model dioramas. The artists involved were Geoff Bennett, Tom Bjarnason, Jim Bruce, Ross Buckland, Don Connolly, Kathryn Plante, and John Rutherford. The dioramas were built from scratch by Jim Pearmain.

Following this special event, the collection was put in storage awaiting a permanent home. It was on November 11, 2011, that his collection was officially inaugurated in the Godfrey Stewart Pasmore art gallery at the (then) CAHC.

Today, visitors at the MAM can admire this outstanding collection and other aviation art that the museum has acquired over the years such as the Kloda collection. We invite you to come and see this unique legacy of our Canadian aviation art.

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