The work of artist Walter J. Phillips is featured in the March 9 open house and an ongoing exhibit at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Courtesy AGGV

Art Gallery of Greater Victoria hosting Japanese-flavoured open house

By-donation event March 9 features works by Walter J. Phillips, Fiona Tan and others

Looking for a place to practise quiet reflection this weekend?

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria opens its new season with a public, by-donation open house this Saturday (March 9) featuring a trio of exhibitions with a Japanese flavour.

Among them is Quiet Nature: The Woodblock Prints of Walter J. Phillips which examines the work of the renowned British-born print-maker, who died in 1963. It’s on display in the Ker Gallery until May 20.

“Leaf of Gold,” a colour woodcut on paper created in 1941 by Walter J. Phillips, is part of the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s collection. The original was a gift from the artist, who died in 1963, and is on display now until May 20 as part of Quiet Nature: The Woodblock Prints of Walter J. Phillips. Courtesy AGGV

Phillips emigrated to Winnipeg at 29 and taught for years at the Banff School of Art (now the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity) and Alberta’s Provincial Institute of Technology and Art (now SAIT,) before retiring to Victoria in 1960.

“Phillips is considered to be the artist who brought the tradition of the Japanese woodblock print to Canada,” said exhibition curator and AGGV chief curator, Michelle Jacques. “He had learned to make etchings from Winnipeg artist Cyril Barraud in 1915. How­ever, attracted to the “beautiful simplicity” of woodblock printing, beginning in 1917, he set out to teach himself its methods.”

During a stay in England in 1924-25, Phillips met and learned techniques from Yoshijiro Urushibara (1888-1953), a Japanese woodblock printmaker who was influential in the revival of colour woodblock printing in England.

Quiet Nature contains work exclusively from the collection of AGGV. As Jacques notes, Phillips did not produce new work while in Victoria, but his connection to the city has influenced the gallery’s holdings of his works. Currently there are 140 pieces in the AGGV collection, nearly half of which were donated by the artist himself. His widow, Gladys, later donated the beautiful 1957 watercolour entitled “Experimental Farm,” of lands near Saanichton, to the Gallery.

The open house runs from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and also marks the openings of Fiona Tan: Ascent and Landscapes of Edo: Ukiyo-e Prints from the AGGV Collection. For more information visit the gallery at aggv.ca.



editor@mondaymag.com

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