Lillian Clarke Sweeney, artist and noted wood carver and sculptor, was associated with our Club for over half a century. One of the 56 Charter members who founded the Island Arts Club in 1909, she was later one of the stalwarts who bridged the transition of the Island Arts and Crafts Society to the Victoria Sketch Club in 1956.
Lindley Crease was a member of a socially prominent family in Victoria which played a significant role in the founding and subsequent development of the Island Arts and Crafts Society.
In 1930, Emily Carr, buoyed by critical acclaim on a national scale that had come her way at last --although still somewhat “a prophet in her own land” -- consented to undertake a rare public speaking event sponsored by the Women’s Canadian Club in Victoria. This event featured a solo show at Crystal Garden, depicting fifty of her renditions of West Coast indigenous totems and village scenes, and designed to add power to her argument on the need to appreciate “modern art.”
In a review of the IASC Annual Exhibition of 1925, the Victoria Times art critic made this note of one of the first-time exhibitors: “Mrs. Drummond’s studies of wild animals are arresting. This artist is already well known for the method of her work as well as for the work itself, as she made long journeys into the wilds by dogsled, in order to study the wild animals in their native haunts.”Nora Georgina Drummond, born in Bath, Somerset in 1862, was an artist and illustrator, whose work typically featured dogs and country pursuits, such as hunting, in Britain and Ireland and later in Canada. She was a member of an impressive family of artists, growing up surrounded by art. Her father was a former Master of the Bath School of Art and Design and an art tutor of the Royal Family, and two of her uncles were painters of some distinction and influenced her choice of subject matter.
In 1925, Lindley Crease, in a talk to the Island Arts and Crafts Society after a holiday in England, made a fascinating reference to a local artist, John Collins. Crease noted that when Collins’ pictures were displayed here – he had contributed to the IACS Annual Show in 1912 – they were given little notice. Yet in an exhibition at Wembley, England, pictures he asked $15 for in Victoria now fetched one hundred pounds sterling.
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
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.
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.