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BC Artists: On or Under the Radar

On the Curve: The Life and Art of Sybil Andrews, by Janet Nicol, joins a growing list of biographies and memoirs of BC artists who have dedicated their life to creativity, experiencing an array of struggles and successes along the way. 

In this list, Nicol recommends eight other reads, all beautifully illustrated with the artists’ work.

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Apples, etc.: An Artist’s Memoir, by Gathie Falk with Robin Laurence

Gathie Falk (1928—) has transformed many ordinary scenes into remarkable art, from her stack of luminous ceramic apples to panels representing variations on men's shirt fronts with ties. Falk was still at work from her east Vancouver studio, aged 90, when Apples, etc.was published. Her memoir is told in the first person, assisted by seasoned art critic Robin Laurence. Seamlessly unfolding in short chapters, tales of Falk’s award-winning performance art, ceramics, sculpture and paintings are chronicled alongside insightful remembrances of her life journey.

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Book Cover Light Within the Shadows

Light Within the Shadows: An Artist’s Memoir, by Pnina Granirer

Pnina Granirer (1935—) was creative from an early age, but didn’t come in to her own artistically until the “third act” of her life journey. This richly layered memoir reveals why this is so as Granirer recounts her beginnings in Romania, followed by immigration to Israel when she was fifteen and then to North America in 1962. She eventually settled in Vancouver with her husband and raised two sons. Using a journal-style format with drawings and photographs accompanying short, thematic chapters, Granirer reveals her finest talent was in drawing as “lines flowed from my pen with a life of their own.”

Sonia: The Life of Bohemian, Rancher and Artist Sonia Cornwall, by Sheryl Salloum 

A genuine "cowgirl" of the Cariboo region and a talented artist, the biography of Sonia Cornwall (1919-2006) is meticulously detailed, offering pure inspiration. When Sonia’s father died in 1939 and her mother, Vivien Cowan inherited the Onward Ranch near Williams Lake, the teenage Sonia “traded paintbrush for pitchfork, ”helping plough fields, drive cattle and mend fences. Along with her mother and A.Y. Jackson (of Group of Seven fame), Sonia co-founded the Cariboo Art Society in 1945, hosting artists visiting from near and far. After Sonia married Hugh Cornwall in 1947, the couple remained at Onward Ranch, raising their own family. Sonia’s paintings of people and surrounding rural landscape are as genuine and warm as her life story.

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Harold Mortimer-Lamb: The Art Lover, by Robert Amos 

An accomplished artist based in Victoria, author Robert Amos writes an engaging account about another man of many talents, Harold Mortimer-Lamb (1872-1970). A collector of art as well as a photographer, painter, writer and art critic, Mortimer-Lamb led a fascinating life, moving among Canada’s most gifted artists. His late marriage to artist Vera Weatherbie, 40 years his junior, is sensitively depicted as a genuine love story, providing much motivation for his passion for art. 

The Life and Art of Ina D.D. Uhthoff, by Christina Johnson-Dean 

Ina D.D. Uhthoff (1889-1971) left a collection of varied and stunning art to gallery archives in BC and Alberta, yet has not received the recognition her work deserves.This biography is the fifth in a valuable ten-book series entitled Unheralded Artists of BC. A Scottish emigre to Canada after the First World War, Uhthoff settled in the Kootenays with her husband. When their marriage fell apart in 1925, Uhthoff moved to Victoria with their two children, persevering as a working mother and makingsignificant contributionsas an art educator and artist of oils, watercolors, etchings, linocuts, pastels and pottery.

Kesu’: The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer, by Jennifer Kramer 

This book celebrates the creativity of Indigenous modern artist Doug Cranmer (1927-2006), giving the reader a fascinating glimpse into a First Nation man’s time and place in BC history. Kesu’ was written to accompany a retrospective exhibition held at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, curated by Jennifer Kramer. In writing the artist’s biography, Kramer was assisted by his widow and sister, also interviewing more than 50 people who knew him. The result is a portrait of a man with a sense of humour who was also a contrarian, pragmatist, individualist, iconoclast and mentor. Cranmer’s rich portfolio includes carvings, prints, jewelry and paintings. 

The Sketchbooks of Emily Carr: Seven Journeys, by Doris Shadbolt 

The list of books about Emily Carr (1871-1945) is long, ranging from the artist’s own delightful writings to the seminal work of Doris Shadbolt in 1992 and nine years later, Susan Crean’s account focussing on Carr’s relations with Indigenous communities. This slender volume of Carr’s sketches accompanied by Shadbolt’s commentary, depicts a portion of the artist’s travels, most along the BC coastline from 1928 to 1930. The reader gains an understanding of the sources of inspiration for the oil paintings Carr would later create. Independent and fearless, Carr sketched all she saw in these remote places. She played with her images too, in one sketch fusing a Native mask with a forest form, and in another engulfing a tiny house among thick forest. 

B.C. Binning, by A.J. Rogatnick, Ian M. Thom and Adele Weder 

Three essayists celebrate the influential work of Bertram Charles Binning (1909-1976) in this beautifully curated oversized, hardcover book. A self-assured artist from a young age, Binning was on the vanguard of west coast modern art and architecture, his paintings and building designs distinctive for their geometric lines, shapes and bold colours. The founding director of the Department of Fine Arts at the University of BC, Binning commuted for many years to the Point Grey campus from West Vancouver, where he lived with his wife. Many photographs included in the book showcase his “west coast modern”residence, which Binning designed. Now a designated National historic site, the home exemplifies a man who lived artfully.

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About On the Curve: The Life and Art of Sybil Andrews:

Sybil Andrews was one of Canada's most prominent artists working throughout the late twentieth century. From a cottage by the sea in Campbell River, Andrews created striking linocut prints steeped in feeling and full of movement. Inspired by the working-class community that she lived in, her art is known for its honest depiction of ordinary people at work and play on Canada's West Coast. 

Although she was raised in Bury St Edmunds, England, On the Curve focuses on Andrews' life after she immigrated to Canada in 1947. Settling in Campbell River, Andrews taught private art and music lessons and created artwork that gained her recognition across the globe. In the final years of her life, retrospective exhibitions of her prints in Canada and Britain skyrocketed her popularity. Prints of her artwork became even more valuable after her death in 1992. In this first fully illustrated biography, author Janet Nicol weaves together stories from Andrews' letters, diaries and interviews from her former students and friends, creating a portrait of this determined, resilient and gifted British-Canadian artist. Andrews' work is as popular today as it was in her lifetime and continues to celebrate the cultural, industrial, agricultural and natural world of Canada's West Coast.

 

August 26, 2019

Books mentioned in this post

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On the Curve

The Life and Art of Sybil Andrews

by Janet Nicol, by (artist) Sybil Andrews
edition: Paperback
tagged: artists, architects, photographers, canadian, artists' books

Sybil Andrews was one of Canada's most prominent artists working throughout the late twentieth century. From a cottage by the sea in Campbell River, Andrews created striking linocut prints steeped in feeling and full of movement. Inspired by the working-class community that she lived in, her art is known for its honest depiction of ordinary people …

rated!
rated!

Apples, etc.

An Artist's Memoir

by Gathie Falk, with Robin Laurence
edition: Paperback
tagged: artists, architects, photographers

Gathie Falk is one of Canada’s most heralded visual artists: she has won the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, the Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts, and the Gershon Iskowitz Prize; she has been honoured with the Order of British Columbia and the Order of Canada; and her work is featured in major gallerie …

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Harold Mortimer Lamb

The Art Lover

by Robert Amos
edition: eBook
tagged: artists, architects, photographers, canadian

Harold Mortimer-Lamb’s name is in the index of almost every book written on the history of Canadian art, yet his place in that world has never been clear. Photographer, writer, painter, promoter—he was a man of many parts and the ideal patron and friend to some of Canada's most famous artists, including A.Y. Jackson, Emily Carr, and Jack Shadbo …

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The Life and Art of Ina D. D. Uhthoff

by Christina Johnson-Dean
edition: Paperback
tagged: artists, architects, photographers

Ina Duncan Dewar Uhthoff (1889-1971). A key figure in the cultural history of Victoria, contemporary of Emily Carr, Uhthoff was a single parent, an artist, teacher, and art critic for the Times Colonist. Born in Scotland she trained at the Glasgow School of Art came to Canada in 1913 and lived in the Kootenays. Founder of the Victoria School of Art …

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Kesu'

The Art and Life of Doug Cranmer

by Jennifer Kramer
edition: Paperback
  • age: 14
  • Grade: 9
tagged: native american, canadian

Fully illustrated and engagingly written, K'esu' is the first book to honour this Kwakwaka'wakw artist's ground-breaking work Northwest Coast.

 

Kwakwaka'wakw art is renowned for its flamboyant, energetic and colourful carving and painting. Among the leading practitioners was Doug Cranmer, whose style was understated, elegant and fresh and whose work …

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Seven Journeys

Sketchbooks of Emily Carr

by Doris Shadbolt
edition: Paperback
tagged: canadian, artists' books

Distinguished art critic Doris Shadbolt has chosen 85 drawings from Carr's sketchbooks, those which particularly reveal the wellsprings of her inspiration. In an introductory essay and commentary for each of Carr's seven journeys along the British Columbia coast, Shadbolt's inspired text evokes the intimacy and immediacy of the drawings themselves, …

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B.C. Binning

introduction by Arthur Erickson, by Abraham Rogatnick; Ian Thom & Adele Weder
edition: Hardcover
tagged: canadian

A celebration of the life and work of Bertram Charles Binning, one of Canada's foremost artists, architectural innovators and arts educators-a seminal figure in the flourishing of the arts in British Columbia.

Artist, educator and architectural innovator -- Bertram Charles (B.C.) Binning was all of these. From the early 1930s through the mid-1970s B …

rated!
rated!

On the Curve

The Life and Art of Sybil Andrews

by Janet Nicol, by (artist) Sybil Andrews
edition: Paperback
tagged: artists, architects, photographers, canadian, artists' books

Sybil Andrews was one of Canada's most prominent artists working throughout the late twentieth century. From a cottage by the sea in Campbell River, Andrews created striking linocut prints steeped in feeling and full of movement. Inspired by the working-class community that she lived in, her art is known for its honest depiction of ordinary people …

rated!
rated!

On the Curve

The Life and Art of Sybil Andrews

by Janet Nicol, by (artist) Sybil Andrews
edition: Paperback
tagged: artists, architects, photographers, canadian, artists' books

Sybil Andrews was one of Canada's most prominent artists working throughout the late twentieth century. From a cottage by the sea in Campbell River, Andrews created striking linocut prints steeped in feeling and full of movement. Inspired by the working-class community that she lived in, her art is known for its honest depiction of ordinary people …

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