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CCAG presents ‘Jack Shadbolt's 1964 Flag Mural and the Canadian Flag Debate'

April 30, 2015

New exhibition explores flag origins, alternate designs, and submissions

(Charlottetown, P.E.I.) - The Confederation Centre Art Gallery opens a historic new exhibition in May, entitled Jack Shadbolt's 1964 Flag Mural and the Canadian Flag Debate. Jack Shadbolt (1909-1998), was commissioned to paint Flag Mural in 1964 for the opening of Confederation Centre of the Arts. It is a very graphic painting that considers the question of national symbols. In a statement on the painting Shadbolt expressed his challenge, "In considering the nature of an appropriate contemporary mural for a building dedicated to Canadian Federation, I began to think about the question of our Canadian identity. What have we come to since Confederation? What are we now? What would symbolize us?"

In 1964, Canada was in the midst of a vigorous national debate around the design for a new Canadian flag promised by Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson. This debate was clearly an inspiration for Shadbolt and it is also clear the artist was acutely aware that Canada was an evolving country. He noted, "With the arrival of so many ethnic groups and with our steady emergence into the international world, the image of Canada as primarily an English-French one with a Commonwealth flavor and an Indian-Eskimo overtone is undergoing a fundamental transformation. New colours, new stripes are added, old patterns shift and change."

Gallery director and exhibition curator Kevin Rice says, "The flag debates will be remembered by many baby boomers, but for a younger generation this exhibition will serve as a reminder of the enormous public engagement in the process and the diversity of designs and symbols submitted by citizens."

Included in the exhibition are a selection of original flag designs on loan from Library and Archives Canada-including the three final options considered; an illustrated letter containing the genesis for the design of the ‘Maple Leaf' flag by Dr. George F.G. Stanley (at the time Dean of Arts at the Royal Military College of Canada in Kingston, Ontario, and later a Lt. Gov. of New Brunswick); several photographs; and two sketches for Shadbolt's Flag Mural, on loan from the Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery at the University of British Columbia. The new national flag of Canada was inaugurated on 15 February 1965.

The exhibition, Jack Shadbolt's 1964 Flag Mural and the Canadian Flag Debate, will be on view at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery from May 2 - September 6, 2015. The gallery switches to summer hours on May 11 and will be open daily, by donation, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.


Photo cutline: Lester B. Pearson announces the winning flag design at a 1964 press conference (Modern reproduction from a 1964 negative) - a featured piece within the new exhibition Jack Shadbolt's 1964 Flag Mural and the Canadian Flag Debate (Duncan Cameron, courtesy of Library and Archives Canada).
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Fraser McCallum, Communications Manager, Confederation Centre of the Arts
T: 902.628.6135 (office) E: | Twitter: @confedcentre |