History

Coming of Age in America: John Canning Ornamental Painters & Church Decorators – TO – Canning Liturgical Arts

As the American historic preservation movement of the 1960s was gaining momentum, John Canning, a young journeyman in Glasgow, Scotland, was preparing to immigrate with his wife and three daughters to Connecticut.

While still in Glasgow, John spent many years working to become a certified Guild member. He served his five-year apprenticeship in the applied decorative arts as a church decorator after studying and completing proper requirements at the Scottish Decorative Trade Institute, Glasgow Stow College of Building, and Glasgow School of Art. During this time, John mastered the art of replicating Old World techniques and materials.

Canning Liturgical Arts is a branch of John Canning & Co. that developed due to the growing need for church restoration and beautification across the nation.  To this day, church projects still remain a passion for John and his expert team of artists at John Canning & Co. and Canning Liturgical Arts.

When John Canning started the Canning business, the company was “John Canning Ornamental Painters and Church Decorators.” Historically church buildings were the most elaborate structures sparing no decoration or embellishment. As a result, “Church Decorators” was the common UK term to illustrate the capability of a painting firm. If a firm could understand and execute the complex symbolism, artwork and purpose of a church building, they could tackle any interior. The firm changed the name to John Canning & Co. because this terminology did not translate in America but sacred buildings remained an important focus for the company. 

The Canning family’s arrival in Connecticut in the early 1970s coincided with the beginning of historic preservation interest in the American Northeast. Historic Battell Chapel at Yale University was the company’s first major church project. Churches have been at the heart of the company since the very beginning. So, about five years ago, Canning Liturgical Arts was created in order to devote the proper time and resources into reviving America’s sacred buildings.