Saturday 4 June 2022


Major Celebration and Retrospective
Of the Challenging Drawings and Monoprints of 
Claire Weissman Wilks, 1933–2017


Toronto, June 4th – The Heliconian Club is presenting this retrospective The Genius of Claire Wilks. The official opening is at 1pm in Yorkville

The  official opening will take place today. There are several poets, artists, writers, and musicians who will take part in the opening. Two well known poets Anne Michaels, and Jessica Hiemstra, will read from their works.

Hiemstra will also read briefly from one of the late Claire Wilks’ books.   Curator Christian Bernard Singer will talk briefly at the works of art on display.  Wilks’ longtime partner, writer and publisher Barry Callaghan will also speak. 

Performing through the show will be jazz composer pianist Joe Sealy and Juno Award winning guitarist Dominic Mancuso.


This exhibition and a second exhibition of Wilks work that opens a few days later at the Gevik Gallery are presenting a mini survey of the startling, emotional drawings, monoprints and sculptures of the celebrated Toronto artist Claire Wilks (1933-2017). 

Wilks was a figurative artist and once called women’s bodies her 'chosen landscape,' but she did not consider this a political statement: "The female form is my line, the form lives in the brain of my finger." Yet, during the 1970s her erotic images of women were rarely accepted in conservative Toronto galleries because of their intense, carnal imagery. These drawings nonetheless contributed to a new dialogue about sexual desire from a female perspective, which happened to coincide with the first major wave of Feminism.

Wilk’s devotion to the naked female form kept her largely out of most Toronto galleries in the70s and 80’s. The novelist Timothy Findley wrote: “Looking at these drawings, women are going to know what it is to be a man; men are going to know what it is to be a woman. Nothing greater can be achieved but that we enter one another’s flesh through one another’s eyes. This is the ultimate compassion.”

Poet Anne Michaels writes: “Her figures embody every kind of dispossession - through sensation, communion, solitude, loneliness, muteness, grief, banishment. Ecstatic; bereft. Every kind of love.” 


The Toronto Heliconian Club, a non-profit association of women involved in the arts and letters It operates out of Heliconian Hall located in Yorkville. In existence for over 110 years, the Heliconian Club remains steadfast in its commitment to women living and working in the arts. It is located at 35 Hazelton Lanes in Yorkville.


Gallery Gevik, is devoted to exhibitions of established artists who represent Canadian art at its best. The Gallery is located at 12 Yorkville Avenue just down the street from Heliconian Club, the exhibition opens on June 11 at 1pm. 


Space is limited.


Heliconian Club 

35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto, ON M5R 2E3

(416) 922-3618  Issued by Stephen Weir 416-801-3101

stephen@stephen weir