Oakridge collaborates with National Gallery of Canada to present masterworks

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      Oakridge Centre is presenting artistic masterworks in a fashionable new way.

      Toolbox Design creative director Niko Potton explained that his agency was hired to convey the idea of timelessness and classic sensibility for the Oakridge brand.

      "If you look at a lot of other campaigns, they're all about getting you to buy or to shop or come down and spend money," Potton said on the line with the Georgia Straight, "but what we're really trying to do is to engage people with an idea and then let them make the connections themselves, not to sort of forcing someone 'You should do this' or 'You should do that'. What we're trying to do is give them an idea either they like it or they don't, it sits with their ideals or it doesn't."

      Potton explained that they began to explore establishing relationship with organizations or institutions which represented those qualities, leading them to the idea of working with art galleries.

      When their first choice, the Vancouver Art Gallery, was unavailable, they expanded their horizons. Much to their surprise, the National Gallery of Canada was receptive and interested in working with them as, Potton explained, the National Gallery has a mandate to reach all Canadians and sought to connect with West Coast citizens.

      Potton said his team visited the art gallery's underground complex in Ottawa. There, they worked with the gallery's curatorial team, who handled the paintings with technically detailed procedures for moving and photographing the paintings.

      The campaign, which launched on September 8, will feature six paintings in total, one painting being highlighted per season (fall, holiday, spring) until spring 2017. Potton said they've zoomed in on portions of the paintings, which they've depicted models posing in front of.

      In order to reflect Oakridge's clientele interests in food, travel, design, and art, and European brands like Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and Prada, Potton said they decided to start with European masters.

      The first painting featured is Gustav Doré's landscape painting Souvenir of Loch Lamond (1875).

      Doré (1832-1883) was a French artist whose illustrations often had literary connections, including the works of Byron, Edgar Allen Poe's The Raven, Cervantes' Don Quixote, Milton's Paradise Lost, and Dante's Divine Comedy.

      Potton said they chose Doré's painting of Scotland, with its outdoor scenery and vast skies, for its seasonal relevancy and impact.

      "We felt this was a good one to start the campaign with, to start powerfully, and really signal to our audiences an Oakridge like you've never seen before. In doing so, the really interesting part to that was that much like our positioning only Oakridge and exclusivity and things around doing things which have never been done before, it kind of forced us into doing things we have never done before either."

      Models are depcited in front of the painting with clothing intended to reflect the painting excerpt (styling by Juliana Schiavinatto).

      "You'll notice with the garments that the models are wearing are sensitive to the painting: the way they're dressed, the walking boots, the thick jackets and things like that, are very subtle hints to the storyline in the actual painting itself," he said.

      Potton explained that he wanted to inspire people to think about looking at the art gallery in fresh ways as well.

      "It's not some sort of staid, musty institution," he said. "It's something very vital. It's very alive. It's very warm."

      Although he was unable to reveal what other paintings will be featured, he did state that they won't all be landscapes, and that they're open to working with Canadian works as well.