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The Artist Herself:

Self-Portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists

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Bertha M. Ingle self-portrait c. 1901      Photo Mike Lalich

This landmark touring Exhibition was presented in Kingston, Victoria, Kelowna, and Hamilton over a period of about 16 months in 2015 and 2016.


It included two paintings (Album) by Bertha M. Ingle.  One of them, this self-portrait from about 1901, spontaneously emerged as a sort of 'signature' image for the Exhibition, and featured prominently in most of its online publicity and press coverage. The co-curators (Tobi Bruce of the  Art Gallery of Hamilton  and Alicia Boutilier of the  Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston) wanted to include strong work by lesser-known artists as well as by more recognized names.  Thanks to the research efforts of Queen's graduate student Erin Wall, conducted as part of a practicum at Agnes, they were delighted to come across Bertha M. Ingle, an artist previously unknown to them.


The Artist Herself was an important event in the growing recognition of Canadian historical women artists.  Its rationale and its development are documented in the Exhibition  catalogue , and also in a number of online articles, presentations, and interviews.  The links below elaborate on the Exhibition’s conception, context, challenges, and collaboration (which Tobi Bruce calls 'the four Cs').

Tobi Bruce is Senior Curator, Canadian Historical Art at the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH).  On International Women's Day, 8 March 2015, she was deep into the final planning stages of The Artist Herself, and was interviewed on radio about the project (excerpted from the full interview at the  Internet Archive ):

Tobi Bruce on Art Waves, 101.5 FM The Hawk, Hamilton
00:00 / 10:53

The Exhibition opened at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre on Friday 8 May 2015 in conjunction with the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative ( CWAHI ) conference marking the fortieth anniversary of From Women’s Eyes: Women Painters in Canada, an earlier landmark exhibition organized by the Agnes in 1975.  The CWAHI conference included a panel called From Curatorial Eyes, moderated by Alicia Boutilier, in which Tobi Bruce spoke about The Artist Herself  (excerpted from the full video at  AGNES  ):


Curators Tobi Bruce and Alicia Boutilier installing Canoe Manned by Voyageurs Passing a Waterfall by Frances Anne Hopkins in The Artist Herself: Self-Portraits by Canadian Historical Women Artists at Agnes Etherington Art Centre.

Photo: Agnes Etherington Art Centre

In January 2016, The Artist Herself opened at the Kelowna Art Gallery.  Video interviews of Tobi Bruce and Alicia Boutilier were published on the Gallery's website.  In this excerpt, Tobi Bruce speaks of the circumstances and the importance of their discovery and inclusion of Bertha May Ingle (excerpted from the full interviews at  Kelowna Art Gallery, The Artist Herself ):

Two days prior to the opening at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, a panel discussion was convened about Canadian historical women artists and the art world.  In the excerpt here, Tobi Bruce again referred to the works by Ingle (excerpted from the full video at  AGH Youtube ):

As Tobi Bruce observed, the 'arresting image' of the c.1901 self-portrait proved to have wide appeal as an emblem for The Artist Herself.


We her descendants are delighted that it remains in several online records and accounts of the Exhibition:  The Agnes Etherington Art Centre, the Kelowna Art Gallery, the Art Gallery of Hamilton Youtube channel (those links appear above), and Catherine Annau's  review article.


The gallery to the right shows other settings where it could be found online during the run of the Exhibition in 2015-16.

It has even found its way to  China , where a blogger made it a starting point for an exploration of several Ingle works and a most gratifying assessment of her artistic nature.

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