Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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"B.C. ARTISTS DISCOVER SAVARY ISLAND"

Vancouver Province - June 30, 1933
by Noel Robinson (Vancouver)

     Savary Island, nearly 100 miles from Vancouver, discovered and named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792, though well known as a seaside resort, may be said to have been rediscovered, artistically speaking, during the past two weeks by half a hundred or more artists from the city which bears the great explorer's name.
     Shaped like a crescent, abundantly wooded and fringed with fourteen miles of perfect sand, this little gem of the Pacific afforded the students of the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts un-ending and varied subject matter for pictorial representation.
     Led by the principal of the school, Charles Scott, this large party of the youth of both sexes, chaperoned by Mrs. Edward Mahon, invaded the island on the eve of the Savary season. Favored, on the whole, by glorious weather, the venture, from both practical and social standpoints, proved a success, beyond the brightest hopes of its sponsors.
     As a result, it is anticipated that the walls of many Vancouver homes will shortly be embellished with representations - conventional, ultra-modern and what have you - of every aspect of this delectable island, in addition to certain unusually interesting and attractive cloud effects which favored the visit.
     This sojourn has combined a most attractive admixture of work and play, as scheduled working hours were fairly firmly adhered to morning and afternoon.
     One mysterious Saturday mid-night a Union Steamship Company vessel disgorged, at the end of the island nearest the mainland, the excited crowd of visiting artists. At once they were whisked by the three young Jehus of the island, Jimmy Spilsbury, Alan Mace and Billy Ashworth, in Savary's three automobiles, along the beautiful Douglas fir-environed five-mile road to the Royal Savary Hotel at Indian Point. Thereafter, until the close of the holiday, the beaches and bush resounded to the laughter and merry-making of the visitors, what time they swam and golfed, painted and picnicked.
     By great good fortune the students were accompanied throughout most of their stay by Wolfe Schwandart, a young and widely-travelled visitor to Vancouver from Saskatchewan University. Debonair and talented - both as vocalist and instrumentalist - Herr Schwandart was always the feature of the programmes given each evening about the huge bonfire upon the beach.
     Seated, or standing upon a driftwood log, and accompanying himself upon his guitar, this born troubadour would sing in any of half a dozen langueages folk songs, pastorelles, ballads, student songs - but particularly folk songs, of which he has scores in his repertoire - of as many countries, pausing every now and again to interpolate informative and witty comment. German, Russian, French, Bulgarian - it mattered not what the language medium - he was equally at home and sang, in the light of the blazing logs, with a lilt and abandon - occasionally with a gentle melancholy - which was infectious and aroused his hearers to enthusiastic response.
     Among his most appreciative listeners were several well-known Vancouver artists, including Mortimer-Lamb and Ross Lort. Principal Scott, piratical scarlet headgear above his bushy eyebrows, was always the humorous master of ceremonies, and occasionally Mrs. Mahon would join the troubadour in singing duets in French. Upon rare occasions, when the holiday-makers were forced by rain to remain indoors, Captain and Mrs. George Ashworth and their son would make the necessary arrangements and see to it that a log fire blazed upon the hearth of the artistic lounge, and the programme would be transferred there, to be followed by dancing in the spacious palm-room, when the young Bavarian would teach his companions folk dancing of various countries, in which all joined. The writer of these few paragraphs carried away with him a lasting impression of these artistic and informal al fresco gatherings.
     By a happy coincidence, Eugene Bond (presumably an assumed name), a tall, handsome Chinaman, who has acted as chef at the Royal Savary for some years, has also acted as life model for this Art School. Moreover, his work with the brush and palette is only exceeded by his ability as a cook. Eugene, during this visit, fitted admirably into the scheme of things.
     The spirit of camaraderie obtaining throughout this sojourn on Savary was a notable feature, and there can be little doubt that these students of the School of Decorative and Applied Arts will have brought away with them not only many pictures of Savary limned by their brushes but mental pictures - quite as permanent for them - associated with this allied art of folk singing and dancing.
     It should be added that there are many wild deer upon this island. They are not too shy at the presence of humans, and may often be seen grazing in the forest or upon the beautiful natural meadows. It is quite on the cards that some of these graceful creatures will have stood for their pictures, or, at any rate, for photographs.



Clipping provided courtesy of Savary Island Heritage Society

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