Semaphore began 10 years ago out of an urgent concern for the welfare of artists of the Christian faith,  a majority of whom had become marginalized from the Church.  The seminal work of Colin Harbinson and three Canadian Christian leaders, John Franklin of Imago, Phyllis Novak of Sketch and James Tughan of  Semaphore, leading discussion at the 4th Lausanne Congress in Thailand in 2004 led to a clear awareness that this condition is global in scope.

Most Christian arts organizations are more focused on the problem of supporting Christian artists within contemporary culture in the public square.  However it is abundantly clear to us that right within many of our own spiritual communities there is an emotional and linguistic gulf between artists and traditional ministry leadership.

And so, long before Flagship was even dreamt of we had been working with all age groups, children, teens college students and adults in art education, trying to build a support system for artists within our own faith community. Some of this work has also been cross cultural in South America (Colombia), In the Middle East (Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia) and in the Far East (china and Thailand. (see Education) Much of it has been right here in Southern Ontario, centered in the Oakville, Burlington and Mississauga areas.

More recently the educational efforts of James Tughan, Chris Cuthill, Phil Irish and Heidi Brannan working out of Redeemer University College as Fine Art faculty, led to the search for a gallery space in the heart of the James North Art Crawl district in a revitalized downtown Hamilton. This was first established to create a place where fine art students and graduates could get a start on launching their careers in the actual art marketplace.

Now from its new office in the Flagship Gallery, Semaphore is also attempting to aid both the the cultural and spiritual communities of  Hamilton, with excellence in artistic and educational work.It is to address this urgent need for the encouragement of artists of the historic Christian faith, that Flagship’s cooperative membership has been restricted  to this group alone.