Alma Rumball (1902 – 1980) was born to a family of Muskoka, Ontario pioneers who settled there in the 1870s. She spent a lot of time drawing as a child, and eventually left the farm to work as a painter in a ceramics factory in Toronto. She returned home in the 1950s and lived a reclusive life. Jesus appeared to her, with a panther, and commanded her to draw and write in order to help humanity. She understood there were other levels of spiritual existence and began to communicate with a ‘genius’, who was a turbaned spiritual guide named Aba.
Alma referred to her spiritual guide as the Hand. She watched as it chose art materials and drew detailed drawings and images on its own. It drew images of unfamiliar forms and faces, as well as Joan of Arc, Tibetan gods, and images of Atlantis.
The Rumball collection has been exhibited in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Glastonbury, Beijing, France and Australia. A documentary film, The Alma Drawings, created by filmmaker Jeremy Munce examines the mystery of Alma’s life and art. The film won the award for best direction – Short to Mid-Length, 2005 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.