HMCS Charlottetown welcomes the Canadian Forces Artists Program

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Navy News / September 28, 2016

The Canadian military has a long and valued tradition of engaging artists to paint, draw and photograph Canada's military actions. In 2001, the Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP) was created to allow Canadian artists the opportunity to follow Canada’s military in Canada and around the world.

Artists such as Ivan Murphy and Ramses Madina continue to create Canadian military art in a new era. Deployed aboard HMCS Charlottetown on Operation REASSURANCE, the two found themselves challenged to steady their equipment on a fast-moving warship with a crew of approximately 250 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) personnel operating in the Mediterranean Sea.

According to Mr. Murphy, a painter from Halifax, the experience was rewarding. “A frigate is a very demanding environment,” he said from aboard the ship. “I’m looking forward to building a body of work worthy of the experience.”

Mr. Murphy’s work is displayed in national and international collections, including the Nova Scotia Art Bank, TD Canada Trust and the U.S. Consulate. His large-scale abstract paintings are usually based on observation and memory; however, given this unique opportunity, he will be using sketches, photography and conversations with sailors as reference material. Paintings will be completed post-deployment for an exhibition at the Canadian War Museum in October 2017.

Both artists expressed their gratitude for having been given access to such a unique opportunity. “Being aboard HMCS Charlottetown during a NATO operation in the Mediterranean has left a big impression on me,” Mr. Madina said.

Mr. Madina’s photography and videos have been shown at leading venues such as the Toronto International Film Festival, the Honolulu Museum of Art in Hawaii, the Cinémathèque Québécoise in Montreal, and the Musée de la civilisation in Quebec City. He is the recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts and was awarded a Chalmers Fellowship in 2014. Mr. Madina’s work is held in public and private collections, as well as in leading educational institutions such as McGill and York universities.   

Although the CFAP was created in 2001, the production of Canadian military art is marking its 100th anniversary, having officially started in 1916 with the creation of the Canadian War Memorial Fund. Various programs have existed since that time.

For more information on the Canadian Forces Artists Program, please visit: