This is an extract from my newest book called

9 Canadian Cities: Victoria to Montreal via Whitehorse and Yellowknife

The National Gallery of Canada has a giant spider outside, so you can’t miss it. On the other side of Sussex Drive from the gallery is the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica. Inside the gallery, Forty-Part Motet is a brilliant sound sculpture by Canadian artist Janet Cardiff  in the Indigenous and Canadian Galleries. This sculpture is a reworking of Spem in Alium, a piece by 16th-century English composer Thomas Tallis. Forty recorded choir voices play back through forty speakers positioned around the Rideau Street Convent Chapel, full name the Chapel of the Covent of our Lady of the Sacred Heart. The effect of the work on visitors is moving and accentuated by the beautiful interior of the chapel, built in 1887-1888 by priest-architect Georges Bouillon. By walking around the room, the listener hears the song through the different perspectives of the individual singers. This chapel is the only example of its kind in North America from this period to include a Tudor-style, fan-vaulted ceiling. Museum authorities saved this beautiful building from demolition and reconstructed all the 1,123 pieces of its interior architecture inside the museum in 1998. This must have been quite the task. The Indigenous and Canadian Galleries display almost eight hundred paintings, sculptures, prints, photographs, silver, and decorative art objects from across Canada, dating from 5,000 years ago to 1967. Recent acquisitions include works by artists such as A.Y. Jackson, Lawren S. Harris, Ruben Komangapik, and Emily Carr.

The sculptures Brillo Soap Pad Boxes by Andy Warhol and Bedroom Ensemble by Claes Oldenburg blur the lines between real life and art. A story told about the boxes is that in 1965 thirty Brillo Soap Pads Boxes intended for a Toronto exhibition were held at Canadian customs, as officials questioned their status as art. The officials contacted Charles Comfort, then director of the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) who, by examining a photograph, determined the boxes were not art, but merchandise.

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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