Thursday, 28 November 2019

November's History Corner

History Corner
Saxe Point, a favourite painting venue, again featured in Peter’s summer schedule. For 25 years this was the home of one of our club’s most distinguished members, Ina Uhthoff, who took inspiration from the beach, the woods and the views across the Strait to the Olympic Mountains.

Born in Scotland in 1889, Uhthoff arrived in Victoria via the Kootenays in 1923. She quickly gained recognition as an art teacher and established the Victoria School of Art with herself as principal. Versatile in both the arts and the crafts, she continually experimented in portraits, landscapes and abstracts as her painting evolved. As an influential and unifying figure in the Island Arts and Crafts Society (IACS,) she was able to straddle the differing artistic views of the traditionalist establishment and the maverick Emily Carr, being the only artist to contribute to both the traditional section and the Modern Room in the IACS 1932 exhibition. 

In 1936 a Fellowship of the Royal Society of Arts bore testament to her growing stature, as did her inclusion in the 1941 Who’s Who in Northwest Art.

Uhthoff befriended and introduced into the art community the newly arrived sculptor Kathleen Maltwood. An outstanding teacher, Uhthoff taught at the Summer School for teachers and various schools, including Glenlyon,in addition to working for the government’s Correspondence program. An effective administrator and communicator, she was a key figure in the establishment of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the recruitment of Colin Graham as its first director in 1951, and who was also a respected arts columnist for theVictoria Daily Colonist.

Despite the unselfish neglect of her own painting activity due to her wider efforts in the community, Uhthoff’s tremendous talent is well represented in the permanent collections of all the leading galleries in Victoria and Vancouver as well as in private collections.

Since her death in 1971, some ofher artistic gifts have been passed on to grandson Michael, a local furniture designer and builder. Our Club is indebted to Michael and his late mother Joy for their help and encouragement during the 2009 Centennial celebrations.

We have even a closer connection in that Ina gave lessons to our own Ann Nolte!
Ina D.D. Uhthoff, Girl Welder at Work, 1943, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

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