Tuesday, 28 March 2023

That's a Wrap!

The 114th Victoria Sketch Club Annual Show and Sale has concluded with great fan fair and delight.  The most successful in our long history, over 1,250 folks visited and a record 67 pieces are heading to new homes.

Thank you to everyone who was able to drop by and say hello.  All of you have our deepest gratitude.

watercolour by Vicky Turner

Thursday, 9 March 2023

History Corner ~ February 2023 by John Lover

 Shortly after the publication of our History Book in 2008, Bill Vallevand, who had done a wonderful job in formatting this work, received a welcome call from a friend who had just read the book. This friend reported that his ancestors were great friends of the artist Thomas Fripp and that he had inherited several Fripp paintings which he’d gladly loan for our Centennial exhibition at Maltwood.

Thomas William Fripp was indeed a notable member of our Club and had cast a long shadow over the BC art scene in the early part of the twentieth century. He was born in London, England, in 1864 into a family of artists steeped in the romanticismof the British watercolour tradition. His grandfather, Nicholas Pocock, had founded the Royal Watercolour Society.  Fripp studied at St. John's Wood Art School, continued his art studies in Italy and then attended the Royal Academy School in London from 1883 to 1890 under the guidance of his father.  

He immigrated to British Columbia in 1893 and pursued life as a homesteader until 1904, when he moved to Vancouver to return to watercolour painting on a permanent basis. Initially, unable to make a living from art and as a keen photographer, he took work at local photographic studios to put food on the family table. 

However, his passion for art undaunted and concerned at the lack of a focal point for artists in the region, he founded, along with others, including John Kyle and Emily Carr, the BC Society of Fine Arts, and served as its first president. By this time, he was arguably the leading painter in BC, and as his work was popular, he was one of the first artists able to make a living from the sales of his pictures. He routinely exhibited with the BCSFA for the rest of his working life. Additionally, Fripp served on the executive of the BC Art League, created to fund an art school in Vancouver, a goal that would be reached in 1925. 

Fripp was one of the first European artists to make a permanent home here, becoming fascinated with the formidable scale of the rugged Canadian terrain and spending many summers with sketchbook and camera in the mountain passes and on the glaciers. Although he is rated as a traditionalist in the field of landscape art, he did make some minor attempt to adjust his style to do justice to his new surroundings but fell well short of the innovative approaches later achieved by the Group of Seven and Emily Carr. 

In fact, it’s true to say that over his thirty-year career his style remained basically unchanged, as he adhered faithfully to his earlier academic training.  By the 1920s, modernism in art, in the form of post-impressionism, was making inroads, and to his credit, Fripp, in his role as a leader in the cultural life of BC and a promoter of art, was scrupulously fair in allowing modernism, like any other art movement, to take root.        

He was able to re-connect with Kyle, Carr and other British trained artists following the formation of the Island Arts and Crafts Society in 1909 and was a regular exhibitor at its annual shows between 1912 and 1930. In 1927 one of his works was purchased by Randolph Bruce, Lieutenant-Governor of BC.

As an artist, Fripp is best remembered for his impeccably realistic watercolors depicting the Rockies and landscapes of the Pacific coast, but he also painted in oils and produced portraits. His work is held in private and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada, the Vancouver Art Gallery, and the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.

Fripp remained active in the local arts scene until his death in Vancouver in 1931. To recognize his championship of BC art, funds were raised to commission a bronze bust of him, which now rests in the permanent collection of Vancouver Art Gallery.

Saturday, 4 February 2023

History Corner ~ January 2023 by John Lover

This month’s subject brings us up to relatively recent times, although our Club’s longest serving active member, Christine Gollner, is the only one of our present number to remember him personally. Certainly, as an established administrator and educator in the world of art, and a reputable practising artist, John Climer seems to have been well respected for his stature in our Club.

John Eldon Climer was born in 1924 in Syracuse, New York. After serving with the Royal Canadian Air Force (1943-1946), he studied at the Ontario College of Art in Toronto, receiving his Associate Diploma in 1950. 

From 1951 to 1957, he worked in several communities in Ontario as an advisor for community art recreation programs, and later, based in Ottawa from 1958 to 1963, as an organizer and producer of the Lakeside Festival of the Arts in that city.

Climer’s next move was to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, where he served as curator and director of the distinguished Mendel Art Gallery from 1963 to 1979. During this time, he also spent a year teaching art at the University of Saskatchewan and curating the Canadian Government Pavilion in Montreal for Expo 67. In his role as curator at the Mendel Art Gallery, Climer became well acquainted with the Saskatchewan arts community, working with, and mentoring, local artists.

A gifted artist in his own right, he exhibited his work across Canada in both group and solo shows, and he is represented in the collections of the Government of Saskatchewan 
and the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. He worked in a variety of media, including oil, watercolour, and etching, and with a variety of subjects including landscapes and still life.

As Climer expressed his philosophy: “My subject, I would like to think, is the medium, and how it may be exploited with reference to what my statement might be.”

Moving on again, this time to British Columbia, he became well-known for his art instruction courses during the 1980s. In the winter months his routine was to encourage his students to continue with their painting here while he enjoyed the warmer climes down south. Students’ work would be critiqued on his return. As Delphine Large, one of his many successful proteges later recalled, “He had remarkable perception in noting the art student’s direction.”

During his association with our Club in these years, members were clearly able to benefit from his influence and his presence as an advisor and exemplar of the practice and theory of art. Christine remembers that he attended many of the summer outings and contributed to annual shows with many of his small paintings.     

Sadly, this period proved to be relatively short-lived, as John Climer died in 1994 while wintering in Yuma, Arizona.