Remember our end-of-show party organized by Terry McBride at the Oak Bay Bowling Club in March? It's hard to believe that this area was once the site of the Willows Fairground / Exhibition Grounds, with the massive pavilion and racetrack now vanished without trace. Significantly, prior to the formation of our club in 1909, this annual fair, which endured from 1891 to 1941, offered an arts component providing the island’s only facility for artists to display their wares.
According to the Victoria Daily Colonist of October 4, 1894, a 23-year old Emily Carr placed first in the Pen and Ink sketches category, and the following year she won first prize in Pencil Drawing, Pen and Ink sketches and Painting on China. Many years later, in 1926, Carr had her own show within the Willows Fair art exhibition, and the next year, the Island Arts and Craft Society as a group contributed 150 paintings, and thereafter assumed responsibility for these annual art shows, improving both their quality and scope.
The 1933 event, organized by IACS member Arthur Checkley, featured Carr and others of the “Modern” school, such as Max Maynard and Edythe Hembroff, and in 1934, Checkley bequeathed Carr a whole section to herself.
This proved to be her final exhibition at the Willows Fair, scene of her first public showings in the 1890s.
By this time, now in her 60s, her work had at last been accorded recognition on more than a regional scale, although the achievement was not reflected in her financial standing. Following a severe heart attack in 1937, her health and energy continued to deteriorate. By 1942, giving more time to writing, her painting activities had petered out. The road to Emily Carr’s iconic status today was a long and hard one.
With the end of our summer schedule, we now look forward to Nirmala’s attractive fall program at our home in Windsor Park. This is a seasonal Tuesday pattern which was established by a group coordinated by Josephine Crease (pictured above), and including Samuel Maclure, Sophie Pemberton and Margaret Kitto, in the early 1900s and thus actually pre-dates the formation of the Island Arts Club (IAC) in 1909. In those early days, Crease’s group used the name Sketching Club during the Summer, and Art/Studio Club during the indoor season. But it was the former title that prevailed. Those interested in sketching were to provide the backbone of the IAC, later the Island, Arts and Crafts Society, and the Sketch Club, which survived the demise of the IACS in the 1950s.
Nude models are now an important feature of our fall program. But, unsurprisingly in Victoria, their acceptance was a slow process. In 1922 it was announced that life classes would be started at the Club with four professional living models, both draped and nude. In the event, however, even in the progressive and liberal life classes of Ina Uhthoff in 1937, “nude” models were reportedly required to wear “bathing drawers” which reached their knees. And as recently as the 1980s, a ballot on preference for nude or clothed models came out just 10 to 4 in favour of nudes, with 2 abstentions. We’ve moved forward a little since!