Aleen Aked was born in 1907 in Kildwick, Yorkshire, England, moving to Ontario in 1910. At fourteen she won one of Arthur Lismer’s Junior Course Scholarships at the Ontario College of Art and later was offered a fulltime scholarship.
Aleen Aked studied under Group of Seven members: Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald, F.H. Varley, J.W. Beatty, Emanuel Hahn and George Reid. Her classmates included Doris McCarthy and Isabel McLaughlin.
Joan Murray, upon first looking at Aked’s work, was “struck by its veracity and beautiful colour , and her fleeting references to what Arthur Lismer had taught her. Her powerful teachers were and are an influence on her painting; their passion for truth and fascination with nature have stayed with her for a lifetime. Her work became more controlled as she remembered Lismer lessons, Design first.
In 1941, Aked bought ‘Maple Hill,’ built by Thomas McLaughlin in 1849, near Tyrone, Ontario. She renamed it ‘Quaint Acres.’ Heritage Buildings in Darling Township describes it as ‘perhaps the finest of the Gothic center gable farm houses in the township, built of coarse fieldstone and a particularly noteworthy doorway.’ Aked spent almost fifty years restoring the farmhouse, calling it her ‘artist’s home.’
From 1929 until 1944 winters were spent in the Sarasota, Florida and summers in Ontario. She was a member of the Southern States Art League and the Sarasota Art Association. She exhibited regularly with both of these groups and served as president of the SSA in 1942. Many of her works use the Florida landscape as subject matter and therefore create an autobiography, the paintings and drawings telling the story of her life.
She also exhibited regularly in Canada at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE), Royal Canadian Academy (RCA) and Ontario Society of Artists (OSA)
The Art of Aleen Aked, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario, Joan Murray
Listed in Artist in Canada: A Union List of Artists’ Files, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa 1999.