Saturday, 16 October 2021

Artist Feature of the Week - Sharon Wareing

It's baaaaaaack. With fall comes the return of our weekly Artist of the Week Feature. This week we feature Sharon Wareing. Sharon is Parkside Hotel Artist in Residence for October, 2021.

"I love the west coast beaches, the ocean, the brings a sense of peace to my soul in this crazy world."

Thursday, 30 September 2021

VSC Exhibit Updates

Government House Update
Our Government House Exhibition will start in November, with our paintings being collected on November 2, at the WPP.  The opening reception is to be held early 2022.. 

VSC 2022 Art Show 
Slated for 21-27 March in the GNS Junior School. More information will be forthcoming on these activities and volunteers sought to help make all these activities come together in the manner the Victoria Sketch Club prefers. 

History Corner ~ September 2021 ~ by John Lover

Our Club records in hardcopy for the inter-war period are very sparse, and we are fortunate that this void has been filled to some degree by a scrapbook, which young people in today’s electronic age might place in the same era as the abacus. 

This volume consists solely of clippings from the two local newspapers of that era, the Daily Colonist and the Victoria Times, which in 1979 would be amalgamated to give us the current Times-Colonist. It was fortunate that the local press at that time gave assiduous attention to the goings-on at the Island Arts and Crafts Society (IACS). Consequently, the scrapbook succeeds in giving us a wealth of detail and a thread of continuity to the life of the IACS during a period which saw the rise and fall of its fortunes.

The custodian of this tome was a Scot by the name of Donald Cameron, a well known and respected member of the Society. Born in Aberdeen in 1866, he studied art at the South Kensington Art School in London and the Scottish Educational Department. He emigrated to Canada, and became an early member of the IACS, contributing to the Society’s annual exhibitions from 1911 to 1936. Cameron also exhibited in Vancouver, staged individual exhibitions, and with other Society members showed at the arts section of the Willows Agricultural Fair. After occupying various executive positions in the Society from the mid-1920s, he served as president from 1933 to 1935.

As an artist, he was adept in both watercolours, oils and pastels. An accomplished sketcher, he was an original member of the Society’s Sketch Club component. Painting in a traditional style, he was credited with a Corot-like deftness in his landscapes, typified by his 1927 Broom in Beacon Hill Park (see below). His work currently features in the collection of the BC Royal Museum Archives. (Left: Beacon Hill Park, ink on paper 12.5 x 18.0 cm)

His labours on the scrapbook are in keeping with his reputation as a conscientious administrator, known for his exhibition cataloguing and recordkeeping of Society activities.  

Cameron resigned from the Society following the end of his second year as President in 1935, and signed off his scrapbook duties with this short note posted in his elegant handwriting:

"This page practically closes my active connection with the Island Arts and Craft Society – having retired at the General Meeting, which was held December 4th, 1935."

Donald Stewart Cameron died in Victoria in 1941.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

History Corner ~ August 2021 ~ by John Lover

Several of our present members will remember Peter and Liza Chesshire, two memorable personalities who both passed away during the past decade. Both were active in the club for many years, and each is remembered for specific contributions which in each case would set a tradition.

Liza’s initiative was referred to in a previous History Corner. Born in England, she served in the WRENS (Women's Royal Naval Service) during World War II and was awarded the distinguished British Empire Medal for her work as an ambulance driver during the London Blitz.

She emigrated to British Columbia in the early 1950s, settling first in Vernon and later moving to Victoria to take up a position as Matron at Glenlyon-Norfolk School. As President of our club in 1984, Liza struck a deal with the then Headmaster, an old colleague Keith Walker, whereby the school would be the venue for the club’s annual exhibitions. This is now a tradition which has endured for 37 years, interrupted only by the current Covid pandemic. 

To step back in time for a moment, Liza resigned as Matron at Glenlyon-Norfolk to take up a similar post at Shawnigan Lake Boy’s School, where in 1956 she met and married a teacher there named Peter Chesshire. The couple later moved to Victoria’s Oak Bay, when Peter secured a teaching job at St. Michael’s University School. Liza, after raising a family of two children, became a realtor.

Peter was also born in England, and after service in World War II and with a Cambridge Classics degree, emigrated to Canada. Once settled in Victoria, Peter joined his wife as a member of the club. Being an avid sketcher, with a distinctive and delicate style, he decided to organize a sketching component in the club’s Annual Show. Older club stalwarts will recall that Peter would invite members to contribute sketches by a firm cut-off date. With military precision, he would set up a large table in the old Glenlyon gymnasium, lay out the sketches and place them under a glass cover.

After Peter’s departure, the table and glass procedure was discontinued in favour of mounting sketches on walls or display panels, but, nevertheless, another Chesshire tradition had been established.  

Saturday, 31 July 2021

History Corner ~ July 2021 by John Lover

 Our club predecessors have always found the means to contribute to art education in the community over the years. Countless members have provided private instruction, the likes of Margaret Kitto, Ina Uhthoff and Will Menelaws became well-known art teachers at local schools, and Uhthoff founded and ran the Victoria School of Art.

However, our outstanding figure in the field of art education was undoubtedly John Kyle, who spanned half a century as artist, teacher, educator, administrator, author, and illustrator. Thanks to Victoria Art historian Gary Sim, Kyle’s remarkable achievements have been well documented.

John Kyle was born in 1871 to an artistic family in Hawick, Scotland, and he began his career as a watchmaker/jeweler while taking art courses at night school, at which he showed natural talents. Following a period working as a certified art teacher, he won a scholarship to the Royal College of Art in London, emerging as an Associate (ARCA) with Honours.

After further art training in Bruges and Paris, he again took up school teaching positions in Britain before emigrating to Canada in 1905, where he was appointed Art Supervisor for City Schools in Vancouver. He also worked as an art illustrator and published a series of articles on sketching. Kyle was a founder member of the B.C. Society of Fine Arts (BCSFA), established in Vancouver in 1908 and contributed to its first annual exhibition the following year. The same year he also joined former BCSFA colleagues Samuel McClure and Emily Carr in the newly created Island Arts Club in Victoria, and later lent his experience in the addition of a craft section to what became the Island Arts and Crafts Society.

In 1913 he was appointed Director of Technical Education for the Province of British Columbia, a post he was to hold for the next quarter of a century, using its scope to start evening art classes in six Vancouver schools and taking art education to every school board throughout the province. Among other of Kyle’s achievements was the development of correspondence course, including reaching out to Nanaimo coal miners and children in isolated lighthouses.   

His advice was sought by the B.C. Art League, formed in 1921 with the twin goals of creating both an art school and an art gallery in Vancouver. He was largely instrumental in allowing the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts  (now the Emily Carr University of Art and Design) to take its first students in 1925.

From 1927 to 1936, he was Director of the Teachers Provincial Summer School in Victoria. In this capacity, having the insight to recognize Emily Carr’s unique gifts, he was the first to sponsor an exhibition of her work for the benefit of teachers from across the province.
It should be noted that Kyle’s range of knowledge and skills embraced a wide range of the crafts, demonstrated in 1931 by his publication, Design for Industrial Arts, which he wrote and illustrated as a resource for teaching woodwork, lettering and metalwork. In his own words, “creative thought and motor activities have been brought into close relationship; aesthetic and constructive problems are correlated with each other and the educational worth of industrial arts has been increased, enriched and dignified.”

Even after his retirement from the position of Technical Director of Education in 1938 at the age of 67, Kyle continued with the teaching of two of the provincial correspondence courses in art which he initiated many years before. The following year he became president of the ailing Island Arts and Crafts Society, and, as what turned out to be the last holder of that office, he unselfishly guided it through the difficult WW2 years until his 80th year in 1951. 

This period also allowed him to resume a painting career denied him during the years of intense teaching and administrative duties. Fittingly, he had one major retrospective solo exhibition of twenty of his oil and watercolour paintings at the new Art Gallery of Greater Victoria in 1957. 

John Kyle was still teaching virtually up to his death in 1958, when a tribute in the Province newspaper described him as “an outstanding educationalist and one of the most influential men in the history of British Columbia Arts and Crafts.”