In this autumn scene set on a mountain lake, a log cabin is perched on a rocky point. Moored at a wooden dock is a scale model of the CF-105 Arrow, retrofitted as a sea plane and bearing the Royal Canadian Air Force roundel.

Diana Thorneycroft

(b. Claresholm, Alberta, 1956)


Avro Arrow at Sombre Hill” (from the series Group of Seven Awkward Moments)

Digital chromogenic print
55.88 x 76.2 cm
Courtesy of the artist and the Art Mûr Gallery
© Diana Thorneycroft

“Avro Arrow at Sombre Hill” is a photograph by Diana Thorneycroft of a model tableau she created. The work associates two symbols of the history of Canadian identity: the Avro CF-105 Arrow military plane designed during the Cold War, and the landscape painting style promoted by the Group of Seven in the 1920s. Against a backdrop reproduction of Arthur Lismer's (1885-1969) Sombre Hill, Algoma (1922), Thorneycroft presents a lakeside retreat and suggests a military presence. In so doing, she questions the pristine image of the Canadian North that was conveyed by the Group of Seven.

Although “Avro Arrow at Sombre Hill” dates to 2009, it fittingly represents 1959 here. It points to the cancellation of the Avro Arrow project that year, while underscoring the use of historical references in Diana Thorneycroft’s work. The artist is known primarily for photographic series based on tableaux created with models and props. The staged scenes, many revisiting moments of Canadian history, are fraught with anxiety, paradox and black humour. Thorneycroft’s use of acclaimed Group of Seven paintings in the series Group of Seven Awkward Moments places her in the same critical movement as Jin-me Yoon and Sonny Assu