New Brunswick

Paintings come to life at Beaverbrook Art Gallery in new novel

In The Frame-Up, the paintings have a life of their own, existing in a parallel world while visitors aren’t looking.

The Frame-Up tells the tale of secret lives of masterpieces at the Fredericton gallery

Author Wendy McLeod MacKnight with her second book, The Frame-Up, which is set in the Beaverbrook Art Gallery in Fredericton. (CBC )

On the page and off the walls, the paintings come to life at the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.

Fredericton author Wendy McLeod MacKnight's new book, The Frame-Up, imagines the works of art in the renowned gallery have lives of their own, existing in a parallel world while visitors aren't looking. 

Sir Max Aitken — better known as Lord Beaverbrook — runs the show. (Or his portrait does, anyway.) 

Lord Beaverbrook, also known as Sir William Maxwell Aitken, died in 1964. (CBC)

The young adult novel focuses on the adventures of Mona Dunn, whose portrait painted when she was 13 still hangs in the Fredericton gallery.

The daughter of Canadian industrialist Sir James Dunn, Mona died at 26. In the book, however, she's a perennial teenager — and her behaviour makes that clear.

It's budding artist Sargent Singer who catches Mona sticking her tongue out at some visitors. 

"And then the whole plot goes from there," McLeod MacKnight said. 

Many of the gallery's masterpieces are featured, including Salvador Dali's Santiago el Grande, which serves as the meeting place for all the other paintings.

In The Frame-Up, Salvador Dali's Santiago el Grande serves as the meeting point for all of the other characters. (CBC)

Included in the book are glossy images of the masterpieces that become central characters.

McLeod MacKnight said it took a bit of legwork — and money — to get permission to use the images from different estates and institutions.

But she felt it was important to include them so children could learn about the paintings.

"I always knew I wanted to have the images," she said. "I didn't want children to read the book and then have to Google it."

The Frame-Up is author Wendy McLeod MacKnight's second book. (CBC )

McLeod MacKnight launched the book Sunday, which also happens to be Lord Beaverbrook Day. The Frame-Up can be bought at the gallery and will hit stores on June 5.

With files from Shift