Photo of Jane Martin

Jane Martin

Artist and Philanthropist


Painting, drawing, photography — Jane Martin’s works are an act of remembering, but that’s not all. To say only that about the artist, who earned a graduate degree at Carleton University in Canadian Studies, implies a certain passivity that belies the ferocity of her works.

Martin has been a practicing artist for five decades, developing a visual vocabulary that focuses on bodies, burdens and life stages. Her works are part of the collections at the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. As a past president of the artists’ collective CARFAC and an in-demand expert, she has been an advocate for copyright modernization.

Stepping away from boardrooms and political offices, Martin retreats to her Toronto studio where she works full time. She is a landlady as well, and calls her short-term furnished apartment The Emily Carr Guest Suite after another painter landlady.

In 1986, Martin and her husband Ewen McCuaig moved into a huge house and garden in Cabbagetown, which they spent decades lovingly restoring. The house came with a ghost and many stories.

Martin and McCuaig had been introduced to each other by colleagues in the faculty of English at Carleton, where she was a teaching fellow while doing her degree. When McCuaig was diagnosed with glioblastoma, the brain tumour started to affect his use of language, which became idiosyncratic and laced with poetry. These musings formed the basis of Martin’s recently exhibited piece “The Ewen Trilogy,” an artful meditation on vitality and decline.

However does one sum up a life? These thoughts were certainly on Martin’s mind when she established an endowment fund in support of the Jane Martin and Ewen McCuaig Curator of Art by Women at the Carleton University Art Gallery. This legacy gift puts into action ideas that Martin has been advocating for actively over many years. It supports the professionalization and economic advancement of female artists, positioning them as viewers, creators and agents of change.