Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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Walter Joseph Phillips

October 25 1884 - July 5 1963

Alberta Society of Artists (honorary member)
Arts and Letters Club
Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour (Charter Member, Past Vice-president)
Manitoba Society of Artists (Past President)
Prairie Print Makers
Print Makers Society of California
Royal Canadian Academy (Associate 1921, Academician 1933)
Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers

Walter Joseph Phillips was born in Barton-on-Humber, Lincolnshire, England, in 1884. He married in 1910 and the couple moved to Canada in June 1913, settling in Winnipeg, Manitoba. Phillips spent much of his life in Winnipeg before moving west to Calgary, then Banff, and finally to Victoria, British Columbia where he died in 1963.

Phillips trained as an artist in England, and tried to make a living as a commercial artist before taking an appointment as Art Master. He painted throughout his life, and had his first solo exhibition in 1911. He continued to teach upon his arrival in Winnipeg, but eventually became a full-time artist, author, and illustrator of international fame. His colour woodblock prints and watercolours became highly sought after and continue to fetch increasing prices at auction.

Phillips made many prints and watercolours of the West Coast after moving to Victoria, and it is interesting to compare the three main geographic phases (as it were) of Phillip's work: depictions of the almost flat Manitoba prairies and the Red River; the Rocky Mountains and their clouds, torrents and lakes; and finally the ocean, the misty inlets, and the disappearing Indian villages of the West Coast.

Phillips studied traditional Japanese printmaking techniques, and modified them into his own unique way of making prints - using as many as 14 carved woodblocks to make just one finished print. Because of the meticulous and time-consuming hand-made nature of his prints, one print in a run can be noticeably different from other prints in the same edition, sometimes due to mixing more colours during production runs, from applying varying amounts of ink to the blocks, and also from hand-altering some of the impressions while still wet - making every print virtually an "original".

Although he was an important artist with a large output of work done on the West Coast, he did little exhibiting of his work in Vancouver, other than at the Pacific National Exhbition. In addition, he exhibited his work in Salisbury and London, England; Winnipeg, Montreal, Calgary, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Warsaw, Venice, and Philadelphia among other places.

In 1938 he exhibited a colour wood-cut in the 55th Annual Spring Exhibition of the Art Association of Montreal. His address was given as 501 River Ave., Winnipeg, Manitoba in the exhibition catalogue.

Many of his illustrations were published, and he also wrote numerous books and articles, some of which are listed below. There are also many references and biographical works on Phillips, so the reader is referred to books such as Creative Canada and Biographical Index of Artists in Canada, listed below, to use as finding aids for specific research interests.

Info in the Banff School of Fine Arts 1960 Prospectus:
     "Outstanding Canadian engraver and water color artist. Educated at Bourne College, and Birmingham College of Art. Mr. Phillips has won international renown by winning the Storrow prize at the Los Angeles International in 1924, the gold medal at Boston in 1932, honorable mention at Warsaw in 1933 and 1935. Mr. Phillips has been a member of the Banff staff since 1940."

In 1982 a compilation of his writings was published, titled: PHILLIPS IN PRINT - The Selected Writings of Walter J. Phillips on Canadian Nature and Art, selected and edited by Maria Tippett and Douglas Cole. It was published by the Manitoba Record Society Publications in a limited edition of 1,000 copies individually numbered. The five sections of the book are: Pictures on the Wall, Sketching in Canada, Canadian Art, Western Canadian Art, Art of the Woodcut. Articles by Phillips on other artists include: L.L. Fitzgerald, A.C. Leighton, Thomas Fripp, Charles John Collings, Charles H. Scott, John Vanderpant, Emily Carr, and Paul Kane.

Exhibitions

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION LOCATION

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION ARTWORK
1932 May - July VAG   All Canadian Exhibition Pacific Coast
York Boats
Karlukwees, B.C.
Tulips
Mamalilicoola, B.C.
Field Barn
The Bather
York Boats, Lake Winnipeg
1938 March 17 - April 10 AAM   55th Spring Exhibition The Vapours Round the Mountain Curled


References - BIBLIOGRAPHY

Refer to BIBLIO.

References - GROUP EXHIBITIONS

4th BURNABY NATIONAL PRINT SHOW (refer to BAG67)

PRINTMAKING IN BRITISH COLUMBIA 1889-1983 (refer to AGGV83)

A NEW CLASS OF ART - The Artist's Print in Canadian Art, 1877 - 1920
      1996, Rosemary L. Tovell, ISBN 0-88884-655-X; published by National Gallery of Canada
      Technically an exhibition catalogue of travelling show, but has extensive information.
      Illustrated; includes endnotes; list of works; selected references; index
      An excellent overview of an important period of Canadian printmaking
      Includes information on Phillips, with four works illustrated

BEYOND THE CANVAS - Artists, Stories and the Sea by Jennifer Breckon and James P. Delgado
      Featuring the Mary and Bill Everett Family Collection
      2000, ISBN 0-9695221-4-2; exhibition at the Vancouver Martime Museum; illust. in colour
      Exhibition included work by Phillips

OUR CHANGING LANDSCAPE (refer to BAG08)

SHORE, FOREST AND BEYOND - ART FROM THE AUDAIN COLLECTION (refer to VAG11)

References - GENERAL

THE NEW WOODCUT by Malcolm C. Salaman
      "The Studio Special Spring Number 1930"
      Edited by C. Geoffrey Holme, published London and New York
      176 pages; no ISBN; hardcover, extensively illustrated in colour and black & white
      Includes chapters on woodcuts in numerous European countries, Canada, U.S.A., Japan
      Canadian artists include Andre Bieler, Charles Comfort, H. Valentine Fanshawe,
           H. Eric Bergman, John Jones, Walter J. Phillips, Paul Caron, Edwin Holgate
      "Mamahlicoole, B.C." (sic) by Phillips illustrated in colour page 145.

BANFF SCHOOL OF FINE ARTS - 1960 PROSPECTUS
      24 pages (approx.); illustrated with student work
      Art Division Staff list includes H.G. Glyde, W.J. Phillips and Janet Middleton.

THE FINE ARTS IN VANCOUVER, 1886 - 1930 (refer to THOM)

CREATIVE CANADA - VOLUME ONE, by University of Toronto Press
      1971; ISBN 0-8020-3262-1
      "A biographical dictionary of twentieth-century creative and performing artists."
      Includes 2-1/2 full columns of concise information about Phillips

THE MOUNTAINS AND THE SKY by Lorne E. Render
      1974, Glenbow-Alberta Institute; published by McClelland and Stewart West
      ISBN 0-7712-1001-2; 224 pages, illustrated throughout in colour and b&w
      Includes biographical information on Phillips and 21 of his paintings illustrated

THE SHELL CANADA COLLECTION (refer to SHEL77)

ROYAL CANADIAN ACADEMY OF ARTS -
EXHIBITIONS & MEMBERS 1880 - 1979
(refer to RCA81)

ARTISTS IN CANADA 1982 - UNION LIST OF ARTISTS' FILES (refer to AIC82)

MURALS FROM A GREAT CANADIAN TRAIN by Ian Thom
      1986, bilingual, published by Art Global / Libre Expression
      192 pages, illustrated throughout in colour and black and white
      History of the murals commissioned for the Canadian Pacific Railway's Park Cars
      Includes works by E.J. Hughes, W.J. Phillips, A.Y. Jackson

MONTREAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS -
SPRING EXHIBITIONS 1880 - 1970
(refer to MM88)

A DICTIONARY OF CANADIAN ARTISTS (refer to M)
      Extensive seven page biography of the artist, more than sixty references.

BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF ARTISTS IN CANADA (refer to BIAC03)
      27 references cited for Phillips, including CC1, M, and RCA listed above.

THE BOW - LIVING WITH A RIVER, edited by Gerald T. Conaty
      Includes essays by G.T. Conaty, Daryl Betenia, Catharine Mastin
      2004; ISBN 1-55263-634-8; Glenbow Museum, published by Key Porter Books Ltd.
      160 pages, hardcover; extensively illustrated with artwork and historical photographs
      Includes essays, select artist biographies, art and general bibliographies, index
      Artwork by western artists includes Phillips

WATERFRONT by James P. Delgado, Executive Director, Vancouver Maritime Museum
      "The illustrated maritime story of Greater Vancouver"
      Published by Vancouver Maritime Museum and Stanton Atkins & Dosil Publishers
      2005, ISBN 0-9732346-5-2, 186 pages hardcover first edition with dust jacket
      Includes list of sources, index, credits, acknowledgements
      Extensively illustrated in colour and black and white with art and photographs
      Artwork reproduced from Atkins Feckless Collection includes print by Phillips

TAMING THE FRONTIER: ART & WOMEN IN THE CANADIAN WEST 1880 - 1920
      July 2005; by Virgina G. Berry, copyright Margaret Berry and Julie Berry Melynk.
      188 pages softcover; illustrated, footnotes, bibliography, index
      Centered on Winnipeg, but has early references to Phillips.

ART INSPIRED BY THE CANADIAN ROCKIES, PURCELL
MOUNTAINS AND SELKIRK MOUNTAINS 1809-2012
(refer to TOWN12)

THE FECKLESS COLLECTION (refer to FECK18)

VANCOUVER PUBLIC LIBRARY - B.C. ARTISTS FILES (refer to VPL)

Clippings

"Walter J. Phillips is another important artist located in Winnipeg. He was born at Barton-on-Humber, Lincolnshire, England, and settled in the West in 1913. Phillips had studied in England before coming to Canada, and has been a valuable asset to the art life of the West. Internationally known for his woodblock prints, in both black-and-white and colour, he is a member of the Society of Graver-Printers in Colour, London, the Society of Print Makers of Los Angeles, as well as the Canadian societies. But Phillips is also an excellent water-colour artist, and his western subjects have charm and originality."
      From Canadian Landscape Painters, Albert H. Robson; page 204
      The Ryerson Press, Toronto, 1932


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