“Nora is one of the loveliest people imaginable, so unpretentious, so apparently listless and apathetic and so full of fun and constant chatter, thoughtful and planning for everyone,” remembers friend and colleague Anne Savage. Born in Montreal in 1898, Nora Collyer first began taking art classes at the Art Association of Montreal under such teachers as Alberta Cleland, Maurice Cullen and William Brymner. Brymner, who served as director for thirty-five years, had trained in Paris at the Académie Julian and organized the Montreal school on the Parisian model. Passing on his enthusiasm for new developments, Brymner never failed to emphasize the importance of self-expression which would become evident in Collyer’s work. In fact, in later years Collyer would return to the Art Association of Montreal and prove to be a gifted teacher herself. The sketching trips Collyer took as a student with Maurice Cullen left his mark in her work. Her technique is never harsh as it is remarkable for its shapes, rich color and soft rhythms. Rarely figurative, her favorite subjects are flowers, woods, riverscapes, old houses, churches, and villages. Nora became a member of the Beaver Hall Hill Group at the time of its inception in 1920. President and co-founder A. Y Jackson provided an important link between the Group of Seven and the Beaver Hall Group and he encouraged the women to free themselves of their old-fashioned academic training and to disregard female stereotypes. Nora and her female colleagues (Emily Coonan, Prudence Heward, Mabel Lockerby, Henrietta Mabel May, Kathleen Morris, Lilias Torrance Newton, Sarah Robertson, Anne Savage and Ethel Seath) employed this advice and the changing social climate into their work.
Nora Frances Elizabeth Collyer
Posted:July 7, 2010 - 2:05pm
Historical works of significance