Wednesday 25 November 2020

In memorial ~ Ray Goldsworthy


Ray Goldsworthy: Colleague, Mentor, Friend
by John Lover ; collage by Christine Gollner
As VSC members, we are among the many saddened at Ray’s passing. Heartfelt sympathy on behalf of us all has been conveyed to his family.

Ray’s quiet and modest demeanour belied an outstanding professional career. A graduate of the UBC School of Architecture, he acquired international experience in the United Arab Emirates, Hawaii and France. Through his highly respected architectural practice, first set up here in 1990, his completed projects, which ranged across British Columbia, included innovative school and health care facilities such as Broadmead Lodge. He also worked in partnership with his friend and collaborator Nick Bawlf on the Victoria Conference Centre. It was fitting that we should celebrate our Club centennial in 2009 at the University Club which was another of Ray’s creations.

He was also known in the community as a selfless volunteer. A member of the Kiwanis Club of Victoria for 52 years, Ray started the tradition of an annual lunch which he then hosted for 30 years, and he is still remembered in those circles as “a happy individual with a big smile.”

Ray came to us in 2005, shortly after the sad passing of his wife. In those early days he was generally seen in the company of the then ailing Nick Bawlf, to whom he gave constant support and the chance to enjoy some last years in the company of fellow artists. From the beginning, Ray was unfailingly generous in sharing his experience and talent, notably his sense of perspective. He also applied his professional skills in designing an improved layout of display panels at annual exhibitions which gave a better flow and increased visibility.

One secret to Ray’s effectiveness was an unfailing ability to see what was important and to separate the wheat from the chaff. This emphasis on economy of effort was evident in his stints as Club Secretary and subsequently President. He believed that the shortest message was the most effective, and that one should put on paper only what was pertinent. In the chair he would politely discourage verbosity and cut to the heart of the matter. This philosophy was also evident in his art work with his impeccable tidiness, elegance and sureness of touch and his gift of expressing the essential with a few brush strokes. His work was at the same time packed with interest. It sparkled with his colourful imagination and a humour inspired by his fascination with the great cartoonists. 

Ray truly valued his friends in the Club, and was very appreciative of his recent Honorary Member award. Most of all, we’ll remember Ray for his kind and generous nature, his wisdom and his infectious laughter. He had that rare and wonderful gift of lighting up a person’s day.

His loss has indeed left a gap in our ranks.

History Corner - November 2020


History Corner
by John Lover

Ten years ago, a newspaper review of our Centennial History Book characterized the formation of the Island Arts Club in 1909 as “hobby for city’s elite.” Perhaps this title did less than justice to an organization which has outlasted all its competitors and is honoured as the oldest arts organization west of the Great Lakes. 

It can be argued that the Club over the years has demonstrated considerable degrees of professionalism. Despite suggestions of cultural snobbery, there were indeed high standards of artistic talent amongst members right from the start, those who merited the classification of gifted amateurs, rather than simply genteel daubers. The likes of Josephine Crease, Emily Carr and Edith Hembroff-Schleicher had studied art in France, England and California, and many of the British immigrants, such as Mary Daniell, Margaret Kitto, Teresa Wilde and Tom Bamford received their early training in British art schools. Sophie Pemberton (Little Boy Blue, 1897 at right), an early member of Victoria’s local sketching clubs, had already received international recognition in Europe. 

It would however be an exaggeration to associate Club with professionalism, if this is strictly defined as making a living mainly/entirely through selling art work, and thus involving such considerations as contracts, pricing structure, deadlines and the use of high grade materials. The only original Club member who was able to survive on art alone was reputedly Thomas Fripp, who had established himself as a noted watercolourist following his arrival from England in 1893.   

That said, it’s unlikely there were many club members who would have had the need or the wish to make a living from selling their art. For the likes of the affluent Crease or Pemberton families, who produced some of the best artists, any such revenue to be garnered would be small change. One-time President Tom Bamford, although of relatively modest means, showed similar indifference. A civil servant and neighbour of Carr, and a talented and prolific painter of Victoria landscapes, he rarely sold any, preferring to give them away. A local journalist once claimed that “everybody has a Bamford (see image at left); they got them as wedding presents.” 

However, putting to one side the notion of full-time professionalism, this is not to say that there have been many members, then and now, who reached professional standards through their specialized training, peer recognition, gallery showings and commitment of time and finance.   

It’s interesting to recall that during their time with the Club, its three most distinguished members, Emily Carr, Jack Shadbolt (at right, Mosaic for Autumn) and Max Maynard, never derived much income from painting. Any big pay-days lay far in the future. In those days Carr was a landlady while the others were schoolteachers. Speaking of teaching, this does lead to the point that some members did make their living from art, if we include activities, other than selling, but nevertheless art-associated, such as book-illustration. This would apply to art teachers like Shadbolt, Maynard, and Menelaws, as well as Kitto who supplemented her teaching income from the sale of her postcards at her Art Deco studio; and Will Menelaws and Ina Uhthoff who taught at Glenlyon-Norfolk School. Most notably Uhthoff, who ran the Victoria Art School, had the most all-round investment in art as teacher, administrator and writer of a newspaper column as well as being a gifted painter.

It’s fair to conclude that the Club has always been -- as the politicians are wont to say -- a broad church, catering to a wide range of ambitions and interests. It has observed the philosophy that every member has something to offer. Its influential annual exhibitions have always provided a platform for anyone seeking to enhance their reputation in the art community and perhaps enjoy the satisfaction of making sales. Even Emily Carr, despite her waspish comments about the Club’s conservatism, must have appreciated her indebtedness on this score to “the only game in town.” In turn, the most talented members have invariably been generous in helping and encouraging by example those of more modest ambitions, painting for sheer enjoyment and the desire to raise their standards. Overall, the Club has remained true to one of its founding objectives in providing a focal point for artists in the region to share their talents.

This sense of camaraderie was well expressed by the late Ted Harrison who joined the Club with his national reputation already well-established. He gave his reason for joining as follows: “because I want to be able enjoy being with a group of like-minded people doing the same thing as I do.”  

Sunday 15 November 2020

New Page coming to Website

 We are compiling a page of interesting links to other local Visual Art Clubs and Supply Shops.  Check out the preview and let us know if anything is missing by sending an email to ATTN: Webmaster

VSC Programming for the Fall

 We have a busy continuation of our autumn program ahead! 

It is the season of harvests, colour and migrations of birds and animals on the move as winter approaches. The Covid-19 crisis is an opportunity for us to hone our skills at home, creating art daily, whether sketching, painting or otherwise. It's an opportunity to try new things and experiment with new ideas that have been percolating and waiting to be expressed. 

Indoor-at-home program
Our indoor program starts Nov 3rd until Dec1st. Tuesday afternoons (or mornings if you want an early start). Details will be sent closer to session dates .

Nov 3rd: Still-Life = Dinnertime : table setting with an autumnal theme
Nov 10th: Character = Life-drawing of a family member or friend in your bubble  
Nov 17th: Painting = View through your window or door
Nov 24th: Still-Life: TBA
Dec 1st:  Seasonal / TBA

Plein air
Our wonderful plein air outings will continue with Rand sending weekly information about location and dates (note, they will no longer occur on Tuesdays). 

Monday 2 November 2020

History Corner ~ October 2020 ~ VSC and Architects


History Corner
by John Lover

Over the years, the Club has been graced by the inclusion of a series of professional architects in its membership who have contributed much more to the artistic cause than simply their natural skills in sketching and perspective.

The most famous of these, Samuel Maclure, was a Charter Member at the Club’s founding in 1909. The son of a Scottish Royal Engineer he originally sought to be an artist and studied art at the Spring Garden Institute in Philadelphia, in addition to classes in architecture and mechanical drawing, before setting off on a career in architecture.

He moved to Victoria in 1892, and quickly became established as a leading residential architect, his clients constituting as much as one quarter of the Club’s original membership. At the same time, Maclure kept up his interest in drawing and painting and produced many impressive drawings and watercolours of local west coast landscapes. Cultured and of wide interests, his love of nature helped him put his observations on paper with fluency, sensitivity and simplicity. Although basically a traditionalist in artistic style, he approved and admired the new approach of Emily Carr and the Group of Seven in representing the untamed and rugged landscape of Canada. Despite a self-deprecating view of his own art work, his generous breadth of vision and objectivity, made him an invaluable critic in the eyes of fellow members, and he did much to enhance the status and reputation of the Society with his encouragement of other artists.

Maclure’s example persuaded Percy Leonard James, a fellow architect, to join the Club (by this time the Island Arts and Crafts Society.)  James was born in London, England, where he qualified as an architect before emigrating to Canada and settling in Oak Bay in 1908. Apart from his association with Maclure, he teamed up with Francis Rattenbury on projects such as the CPR Steamship Terminal Building (completed in 1924). His firm was rated second only to Maclure for the prestige and quality of its residential work. As a committed artist, James’ talents in sketching and watercolour were ably demonstrated in his contributions to Society annual exhibitions.

Visitors to the Society’s annual exhibition in 1916 in the Union Building were treated to architect John Keith’s “drawing of proposed Christ Church Cathedral,” a project which would not start for ten more years. Born in Nairn, Scotland, Keith had arrived in Victoria in 1891 specifically to win the competition for the design of the Cathedral, an accomplishment earning him fellowship of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Fast forward to the turn of the century and older members will remember us welcoming into the fold distinguished Calgary-born architect Nicholas Bawlf, who, after years of working overseas, established his practice in Victoria in 1972. His major projects had included numerous restorations, such as Market Square and the historic Barkerville settlement, together with contemporary contextual work exemplified by the Victoria Conference Centre. Bawlf demonstrated a wide range of interests, notably in heritage preservation, and was devoted to his watercolours.

Bawlf’s close friend and sometime collaborator was none other than Ray Goldsworthy, also a graduate of the UBC School of Architecture and with subsequent international experience in the United Arab Emirates, Hawaii and France.

Through his own company, set up here in 1990, he practiced in partnership with Bawlf on the Conference Centre project and completed work on the Lodge at Broadmead, Beckley Farm, Tillicum and Resthaven Lodge, the CBC Building and Esquimalt Branch Library.  

In addition to his service to our Club as President and Secretary, Ray has been unfailingly generous in sharing his experience and talent with fellow members. His own work, apart from its impeccable craftsmanship, is characterized by his free-flowing imagination and a puckish sense of humour.  

Ray recounts that the Director of the UBC School of Architecture strongly held the view that budding architects should be “Renaissance Men.” It seems that those of this profession who have passed through our ranks over the past century have striven to pass the test.