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Anna is a Senior Specialist of Canadian Art at Cowley Abbott, having more than ten years of experience in the Canadian art world. While continually remaining highly engaged with all aspects of art and culture, Anna is passionate about absorbing as much as she can through exhibitions, shows, talks, publications and more.

The Toronto arts scene is robust, having expanded and grown immensely over recent years. As one of the members of Cowley Abbott who was born and bred in Toronto, Anna, what have you noticed in terms of the arts and culture community in the city?

I grew up going to exhibitions and shows at the AGO, ROM, TSO, National Ballet, etc. with my parents. I am thankful for those nostalgic memories, as it fostered a steadfast interest and love for art and culture from a young age. It is a wonderful sign of growth for the arts community of Toronto to see new art galleries popping up and art institutions being founded. Private galleries and auction houses, for example, are no longer primarily located in the Yorkville area, but are now scattered throughout the city, signalling positive expansion. The pandemic certainly changed how we interact with and appreciate art exhibitions, creating exciting virtual opportunities (which Cowley Abbott embraced), but it really is exhilarating to be back at our Canadian art and cultural institutions in-person again. Attend an exhibition or show as soon as you can!

Cowley Abbott now holds a twice-yearly Inuit and First Nations Auction, amongst the many other exciting auctions. This is an exciting venture and one that all of the team feel strongly about in terms of learning and respecting the artwork. You have a profound interest in historical Canadian art, but we hear you also enjoy studying Indigenous art?

I do indeed have a profound interest in historical Canadian art – anything that I can sink my teeth into that affords me the chance for a deep dive into research, but this also applies for Inuit and First Nations art. I had the rare opportunity many years ago to work with and learn from a friend with vast experience in Inuit art. (Actually, my entrance essay for the Christie’s Master’s program explored the sculptural creations of the Inuit artist, Manasie Akpaliapik.) As a result, I enjoy discovering new artists and having the opportunity to handle Inuit artworks entrusted to CA for sale – the tactile element is wonderful. With fantastic organizations like The Inuit Art Foundation, which seeks to support Inuit artists through the beautiful Inuit Art Quarterly (subscribe today!), as well the recent publications on Indigenous and Inuit artists from the Art Canada Institute, we can learn more about this beautiful and unique art form and the many talented artists. Make sure to visit the AGO’s current exhibition, “Robert Houle: Red is Beautiful”, and read all you can!

Anna Holmes can be reached directly by e-mail at [email protected]. Stay tuned for the next installment of “Introducing the Cowley Abbott Team” in a week!