Betwixt & Between: An Untold Tom Thomson Story
A multi-faceted, fully immersive, interactive exhibition designed to tie the story of Canadian artist Tom Thomson (1877-1917) with the often overlooked history of the First Nations peoples of the Bruce Peninsula. The project is an innovative combination of story-telling, and ancient as well as modern technologies which will unfold in several stages, beginning with the launch of the gallery exhibition in May 2017 in the TOM THOMSON ART GALLERY (the TOM) and the launch of the accompanying APP. The APP will allow viewers to not only interact with the exhibition using augmented reality, but also to interact with the exhibition catalogue as well as participating in a geo-caching like treasure hunt to find copies of the very same artefacts seen in the museum.
The Betwixt & Between project challenges the role of museums, governments and educational systems as traditional bastions of authority and explores the relationship between false representation and truth. The artists have spent an extensive amount of time researching through primary documents and source materials in order to develop a narrative that could be considered 85% authentic. Tying the story to real events in Thomson’s life and in Canadian history, the story as presented isn’t necessarily fiction – rather it is just not fully proven.
Combining resources, expertise, technical skills and creative vision, no museum has ever undertaken a project of this scale and ambition before. After its initial 4 month run at the TOM in 2017, the exhibition will be presented at the Confederation Art Centre (PEI), the Reach (BC), the Art Gallery of Grimsby and the Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery (ON). 2017 is the 100th anniversary of the premature and mysterious death of Tom Thomson as well as the 100th anniversary of Vimy Ridge where our Anishinaabe character, George Nadjiwon, dies heroically
Lead artists Joel Richardson and Germinio Pio Politi have been working with artisans and community members from the First Nations communities on the Bruce Peninsula for over 3 years to create the artefacts that help to tell the story of the friendship between George and Tom. They also worked closely with artist Nyle Johnston who is from Neyaashiinigmiing to create the character of George and George’s journal entries.
At the closing of the exhibition at the TOM, Betwixt & Between will launch an online, virtual 3D version of the exhibition that will allow users to experience the original exhibition from anywhere in the world. This 3D virtual exhibition will be a part of the on-going legacy of this project.
This project will be ground-breaking due to its wide scope and inclusion of multimedia components never before completed on this scale. Betwixt & Between: An Untold Tom Thomson Story challenges conceptions through a story that will speak to the Canadian sense of nationhood and Canada’s coming of age. It will address truth and reconciliation with the First Nations, the Great War, and the story of the great Canadian painter Tom Thomson, whose art has been called the visual equivalent of our national anthem. And at its core, it is a story about friendship.