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Local artist’s work to be displayed in Canadian War Museum

By: Allison Chorney

  |  Posted: Thursday, Apr 03, 2014 11:28 am

Local artist Robert (Bob) Harriman shows off the Vimy Ridge inspired chair he painted and hopes to raise funds for a yet to be determined local cause.
Local artist Robert (Bob) Harriman shows off the Vimy Ridge inspired chair he painted and hopes to raise funds for a yet to be determined local cause.
ALLISON CHORNEY/Rocky View Publishing

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When Airdrie artist Robert (Bob) Harriman visited the Canadian National Vimy Memorial in France with his family in 2010, he was inspired to capture the monument in paint. That painting will soon be heading to Ottawa to become part of the Canadian War Museum collection.

“All artists like to be recognized,” Harriman said, “and I can’t think of a better way to be recognized.”

The painting depicts the memorial as seen from a poppy field in Germany and is titled Lest “They” Forget.

“It’s a bit of a reminder not to do it again,” he said of the artwork.

The piece also has a personal connection to Harriman because his grandfather, Major John James Harriman, took part in the battle for Vimy Ridge in 1917.

“It is the most important battle that Canada was in and a successful one for sure,” Harriman said.

He added historians claim the battle was so important to Canadians because it really cemented Canada and its citizens together as a country and not merely a British Colony.

Indeed, after the success at Vimy Ridge, Canadian forces went on to other successful battles in the First World War helping to earn Canada a separate signature on the Versailles Peace Treaty.

In the three-day battle Canada suffered more than 10,000 casualties, including almost 3,600 fatalities.

“That’s an awful lot of Canadians fighting for the freedoms we enjoy today,” said Harriman, who has lived in Airdrie since 2005.

The Canadian National Vimy Memorial has the names of 11,285 Canadian soldiers who served a tour of duty in France and were posted as “missing, presumed dead.”

“It’s a very impressive monument,” Harriman said.

The artist also created a similar piece to Lest “They” Forget on an Adirondack chair that he hopes to use to raise money for local charities in the future. The artist, who participated in AIRdirondack Art Project two years ago, said he was approached to participate in the event again this year but had to decline due to other commitments. However, he decided to paint his own chair in the Vimy memorial theme as a way to still contribute to the community.

He is currently working with local groups to find an appropriate way to use the chair to raise funds.

Next up for the artist, who has been painting for nearly 65 years, is an exhibit of some of his work in September at the Airdrie Public Library.

As for his Ottawa-bound painting, he said having the piece displayed in the Canadian War Museum is an honour.

“Now that it’s in their collection, it will be around longer that I will,” he said.


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