Art & Artists in Exhibition: Vancouver 1890 - 1950
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George Lister Thornton Sharp

c1880 - July 2 1974

ARIBA
M.C.
Architectural Institute of B.C. (Charter Member, Member #51, President 1924-26)
B.C. Society of Fine Arts (President 1937 - 1939)
British Columbia Artist (BCA, 1921)
Art, Historical and Scientific Association of Vancouver (Member 1931)
Salt Spring Island Art Group

George Lister Thornton Sharp was born in London, England. He was educated at Haileybury, England, and commmenced his career as an architect in London in 1898. He arrived in Vancouver from London, England in 1908, according to an entry form he filled out for an exhibition. Although he trained and articled as an architect, he also took art classes at the Royal Academy. He had previously worked in Pretoria, South Africa, then returned to England before emigrating to Canada. He worked for an architectural firm in Montreal in 1906-07 before moving west. He married Hilda Fisher, of Pretoria, South Africa.

He exhibited his artwork in Vancouver, starting at least as early as 1909 with the B.C. Society of Fine Arts' debut First Annual Exhibition at the Dominion Hall in Vancouver. The exhibition catalogue for that show lists Sharp's name in four different ways: J. Thornton Sharp ARIBA; G.L. Thornton Sharp; J.L. Thornton Sharp; and G. Thornton Sharp ARIBA. It is possible that there were two Thornton Sharps in that show: J.L. and G.L.

G.L.T. Sharp was one of the earliest architects in Vancouver, registered as the 51st architect with the Architectural Institute of Vancouver. With Charles Thompson he co-founded the longest surviving architectural firm in Vancouver, Sharp and Thompson, albeit one that has changed names more than once. Around 1908 Sharp designed the Shaughnessy residence of R.S. Lennie, the father of artist Beatrice Lennie, who at that time was only a few years old. Many years later Beatrice was commissioned to create decorative work on Sharp's last major project, the Anglican church St. John's Shaughnessy, designed in the 1940s.

Sharp exhibited extensively with the B.C. Society of Fine Arts, including the exhibitions in November 1909, September 1920 (held at the Vancouver School Board offices on Hamilton Street), 1921, and 1922, May 1924, 1925, and 1926, June 1927, May and November 1929, from 1936 to 1940, 1944, 1950, from 1950 to 1957, 1959 to 1962, 1964, and 1967. He is probably the only artist who personally contributed work to the first and the last exhibitions held by the Society, a remarkable span of almost sixty years of art.

He exhibited his work with the Island Arts & Crafts Society in 1927 and 1928, and at the Vancouver Exhibition in 1924 and 1930, representing the B.C. Society of Fine Arts in the latter exhibitions.

Sharp was the founding Director of the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts when it opened in 1925, but resigned after the first session.

Sharp and Thompson Architects designed the first Vancouver Art Gallery on Georgia Street, an art-deco poured-concrete building which opened in 1931. He exhibited his work in the gallery in the annual B.C. Artists exhibitions in 1932, 1933, 1934, from 1936 to 1938, 1941, and 1947. Sharp had solo exhibitions of pictures at the gallery in 1933, 1935, and 1937.


St. John Anglican church on Granville St. - Sharp's last project.

He retired to Vancouver Island, where he continued to paint until he died in Chemainus in 1974 at the age of ninety-four.

Exhibitions

SOLO EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION LOCATION
1933 December 1 - 10 Exhibition of Pictures VAG
1935 April 9 - 21 Exhibition of Watercolours VAG
1937 May 4 - 16 Exhibition of Watercolours VAG
1940 Oct. 15 - 27 Watercolours VAG

GROUP EXHIBITIONS
DATE EXHIBITION ARTWORK
1909 April 20 - 28 BCSFA   First Annual Exhibition Yorkshire Moors
Pretoria, South Africa
On Howell's Ranch, Hornby Id.
Lucerne, Switzerland
Basilica Vicenza, Italy
1909 November BCSFA    Second Exhibition Street Scene in Zanzibar
Design for Small House, Strathcona, Pt. Grey
1910 May BCSFA   Third Exhibition Architect's Perspective
1920 September 18 - 25 BCSFA   Annual Exhibition Evening, North Arm
Grey Rocks, North Arm
North Arm
1921 Sept. 19 - 24 BCSFA   13th Annual A Windy Day, Caulfield
A Hot Day
Qualicum Beach
Evening Mists
Morning Mists
1922 Sept. 16 - 23 BCSFA   14th Annual Granville St. Bridge
False Creek
Fish Wharf
1924 May 3 - 17 BCSFA   16th Annual Emerald Cave, La Jolla
Cormorant Cliffs
Balboa Park
La Jolla Bay
La Jolla Bay
Cactus
1925 May 9 - 16 BCSFA   17th Annual Japanese Bridge, Fraser River
The Thaw
The Forest Edge
Frost on Fraser Delta
Qualicum Beach
1926 May 8 - 15 BCSFA   18th Annual The Mouth of the Fraser
1927 June 10 - 25 BCSFA   19th Annual St. Colomb
Markham Church
The Goat Herd
Bude Sands
1929 May 18 - June 8 BCSFA   21st Annual Clovelly
Georgia Street
False Creek
Balantyne Pier
1929 Nov. 16 - 30 BCSFA   Winter Exhibition Halfmoon Bay
The Houseboat
The Gable
English Landscape
1930 Aug. 6 - 16 VanExh   Oil Paintings & Water-colours Black Tusk Meadows
Black Tusk Meadows
The Lake, Garibaldi Park
1932 May - July VAG   All Canadian Exhibition The Spit, Denman Island
Alouette River
1932 Oct. 5 - 30 VAG   B.C. Artists 1st Annual Denman Island Ferry
The Fraser Fleet
1933 June 3 - 11 BCSFA   23rd Annual Harrison Lake
Arbutus Trees
Guildford
1933 Sept. 22 - Oct. 15 VAG   B.C. Artists 2nd Annual The Siesta
Denman Island
1934 Sept. 21 - Oct. 14 VAG   B.C. Artists 3rd Annual Mount Baker
Himalayan Poppies
Gladiolii
1934 ? - ? VAG   B.C. Artists Edmonton Exhibition Mount Baker
1935 Sept. 20 - Oct. 15 VAG   B.C. Artists 4th Annual Flowers
1936 June 26 - July 12 BCSFA   26th Annual Gladioli
Beach Scene
Lost Lagoon
Evening Cove
1936 Sept. 18 - Oct. 11 VAG   B.C. Artists 5th Annual Mt. Baker
Flower Study
1936 Oct. 15 - 20 VAG   B.C. Artists Chilliwack Exhibition Mt. Baker
1937 April 16 - May 1 BCSFA   27th Annual Cultus Lake
Harrison Hot Springs
Monterey, California
Mt. Baker
1937 Sept. 17 - Oct. 10 VAG   B.C. Artists 6th Annual Sands, Denman Island
Arrowhead Lake
Vancouver Island
1938 April 29 - May 15 BCSFA   28th Annual Mouth of the Fraser
Sands, Denman Island
False Creek
Penticton, B.C.
Ballantyne Pier
1938 Sept. 16 - Oct. 9 VAG   B.C. Artists 7th Annual Arrow Lake
Carmel-by-the-Sea
1939 June 9 - 25 BCSFA   29th Annual Flower Study
1940 May 17 - June 2 BCSFA   30th Annual Byways
Among the Islands
On Vancouver Island
1941 Sept. 26 - Oct. 19 VAG   B.C. Artists 10th Annual Vancouver Island, B.C.
1944 May 13 - June 4 BCSFA   34th Annual Landscape
Old Boathouse
Afternoon
1947 Sept. 20 - Oct. 12 VAG   B.C. Artists 16th Annual Maple Bay, V.I.
Salt Spring Island
1948 Nov. 2 - 14 VAG SSIAG Group Exhibition Pool, Nanaimo
Ganges Harbour
Sansum Narrows
Yellow Point
1950 April 25 - May 14 BCSA   40th Annual Evening Cove
Winter

References

WHO'S WHO IN WESTERN CANADA
      1911; Edited by C.W. Parker
      A Biographical Dictionary of Notable Living Men & Women of Western Canada
      Published by Canadian Press Association Ltd., Vancouver office
      Contains 3,000 biographical sketches in 390 pages, incl. 84 pages photo portraits
      References include Sharp

VANCOUVER CITY SCHOOLS - TRUSTEES ANNUAL REPORT 1925
      23rd Annual Report; Published by the Board of School Trustees, City of Vancouver
      136 pages illustrated; soft cover with drawing by Charles H. Scott
      Includes School of Decorative and Applied Arts Report by Sharp page 95,
      Also includes Drawing Report by S.P. Judge page 85.
      Art school references pages 10, 19, 26, art class photos pages 96 and 97
      Also complete statistics on students, attendance, buildings, teachers, courses, etc.

THE ARCHITECTURAL INSTITUTE OF BRITISH COLUMBIA HANDBOOK - 1928
      1928, published by AIBC, 90 pages
      Includes Register of Members, regulations, Architect's Act
      Also Index of Building Materials Handled by Wm.N. O'Neil Co. Ltd.

100 YEARS OF B.C. ART (refer to VAG58)

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

ISLAND ARTS AND CRAFTS SOCIETY - List of Exhibitors

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

MONTREAL MUSEUM OF FINE ARTS -
SPRING EXHIBITIONS 1880 - 1970
(refer to MM88)
      Two Sharp paintings listed in 1936 exhibition: Goblin Tree and Evening Cove.

BIOGRAPHICAL INDEX OF ARTISTS IN CANADA (refer to BIAC03)
      2 references cited for Sharp including MM above.

BUILDING THE WEST - Early Architects of British Columbia
      2003; Edited by Donald Luxton, numerous contributing authors and researchers
      Talonbooks, ISBN 0-88922-474-9
      560 pages, extensively illustrated in black and white, some colour
      Biographies of over 400 architects and firms; extensive bibliography
      Includes biography of Sharp, history of Sharp & Thompson Architects, art gallery photo

PUBLIC ART IN VANCOUVER - ANGELS AMONG LIONS (refer to PAV09)

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

Clippings

"Though but a small organization, numerically considered, the B.C. Society of Fine Arts has had the honor of contributing its quota of members to engage in the determined and now successful fight for freedom and civilization. It may be said that all those belonging to this artistic fraternity have helped in various ways, but those marked out for special recognition are:
     GEORGE THORNTON SHARP. - A well-known architect of this city, who, on first going to the Western Front, was attached to the Aviation Corps, where his great ability in translating the results of observations into intelligible drawings and blue prints was much appreciated. He has risen to the rank of captain and for the past year has been a member of the headquarters staff, 3rd Division."
     From Honor Roll - B.C. Society of Fine Arts
     The Gold Stripe, Volume One, Christmas 1918

"J. Thornton Sharp's sojourn in the Old Country gave him a new start in acquarelles; look at his two pictures."
      From "B.C. Society of Fine Arts", by Diogenes
      Vancouver Daily Province, November 13 1930

"Mr. Sharp was the architect for the Art Gallery, and his work is well known in this city. This is his first one-man show of pictures."
      From Art Gallery Bulletin, December 1933, Vol. 1, No. 4

"Charming Display of Watercolours" by R.W.M.
      Daily Province, April 10 1935

"Other artists showing creditable work are ... G. Thornton Sharp ..."
      From "Notable Exhibits of Artists' Work" by Mildred Valley Thornton
      Vancouver Sun (presumed), May 1944

"G. Thornton Sharp, a city architect, was director of the School during its first year with Charles H. Scott as Principal. At the end of the first session, Mr. Sharp resigned and Mr. Scott was appointed Director."
      From "A Short Art History of British Columbia", by Charles H. Scott
      Behind The Palette, June 1947

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