It's Not the Destination, It's the Journey: Art and the Expedition in Nineteenth Century Canada III

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Introduction

If Kane's work seems lofty in concept, then William Hind's style can be taken as rather self-limiting. Hind's compositions are often cropped awkwardly, as he stresses the premiere virtue of his practice - the artist's presence in the thick of things. Regardless of professional differences in aesthetic, the artists' field studies and preparatory sketches offer valuable evidence of hand and eye, as well as, perhaps, frame of mind... William Hind's sketches from the Overlander Expedition of 1862 are transcribed into pocket-sized calendar books, relaying to modern viewers the urgency implicit in the artist's surroundings as well as his treatment of the subject - in intimate vignettes addressed visually in as direct a fashion as any written diary maintained by his companions. Kane's approach, surveying scenes from a slightly more elevated and panoramic viewpoint, contrasts sharply with Hind's annotated images. It is the subtle charm of Hind's work that renders it so impressive, compared with the dazzling grandeur of Kane's style. Perhaps it is even more impressive to consider the skill required to condense the panoramic views into such a miniscule format - as if reduced to looking at the new frontier through a keyhole. Afterwards, studio work must have seemed like such a luxury, with yards of canvas to convey all that sky...