‘It was a gift’
Cherished career as war art historian earns Order of Canada nod for former Island resident
Laura Brandon is quick to credit her work on P.E.I. with providing the grounding for a lauded career in preserving and promoting war art.
She arrived in P.E.I. in 1979 with her husband, Robert, and the couple’s then small child.
The pair would add two Island-born children to the clan as Brandon became immersed in the world of art.
She curated her first exhibits in P.E.I. and she conducted her first lectures here.
She wrote about art in the province and, at UPEI, she taught about the subject.
Brandon worked for the P.E.I. Council of the Arts, including serving for a time as chairwoman.
While here, she also wrote the draft for her award-winning book entitled “Pegi by Herself: The Life of Pegi Nicol MacLeod, Canadian Artist”.
This experience amassed in Prince Edward Island over her 14-year stay in the province proved to be the base for her remarkable 22-year career as art historian with the Canadian War Museum.
“I do want to emphasize that P.E.I. gave me the tools and experience to work with what was a gift, which was the war art,’’ she told The Guardian in an interview from her home in Ottawa.
She didn’t just work with war art. She shone on it the brightest imaginable light.
Last month, she was appointed to the Order of Canada for her “contributions to uncovering and preserving Canadian war art, and for bringing it to the attention of national and international audiences.’’
Friends of the Canadian War Museum praise Brandon for playing a pivotal role in building the museum’s internationally recognized collection of war art.
Brandon curated more than 40 temporary and travelling exhibitions before retiring one year ago. She remains involved with the museum as a research associate; she is also teaching about war art part-time at Carleton University in Ottawa.
Her past exhibitions include A Brush with War: Military Art from Korea to Afghanistan, which travelled across Canada from 2008 to 2012; Canvas of War, which received the Canadian Museum Association’s Award of Excellence in 2000; and Art and War: The Second World War Art of Australia, Britain and Canada, which opened at the new Canadian War Museum in 2005 and later travelled to the Imperial War Museum and the Australian War Memorial.
A number of the exhibitions she has curated have come to the Confederation Centre of the Arts. She has also lectured on war art in P.E.I.
Brandon says when she arrived at the Canadian War Museum, she recognized that war art was not just war art but that the work represented a community that had a very strong bond of purpose.
“I felt very much working with war art that I was a part of a group,’’ she says. “It was a gift.’’ So Brandon is quick to share her nod to the Order of Canada with war artists.
“Their work is not going to be forgotten,’’ she says. “I’m just proud that it is out there.’’
Laura Brandon, who spent 14 years working on P.E.I. in the art field and raising a family, was named to the Order of Canada in late December. She played a pivotal role in building the Canadian War Museum’s internationally recognized collection of war art.