Thursday, February 22, 2024

Renowned woodblock artist makes massive donation to Victoria’s Maritime Museum of BC


This week, the Maritime Museum of British Columbia (MMBC) accepted a huge art donation from a nationally celebrated artist who gave a full 41-piece series to the museum. 

The donation came from renowned artist, author and educator Graham Scholes. Over the past several years, he did a series of 41 pieces that depict the lighthouses strewn across the west coast of Canada, including along Vancouver Island. 

Some of these same pieces were displayed in the museum back in 2022 for the Let There Be Light with Woodblock Prints exhibit. 

Now, Collections and Exhibit Manager for the MMBC, Heather Feeney, says that they are beyond excited to add the full series to their artwork collection of over 500 pieces. 

“A complete body of Scholes’ woodblock prints is held in the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria’s collection, positioned in Canadian art history with the greats of West Coast art,“ said Heather Feeney, Collections and Exhibit Manager. 

“The Maritime Museum of BC is honoured to now be among the Victoria institutions with Scholes’ works held for the enjoyment and study of future generations.”

Scholes is a 90-year-old Toronto-born artist who has been living in Greater Victoria since 1987.

Although he is accomplished in many mediums of art and has published several books through his long and celebrated career, Scholes has made Hosho paper Mokuhanga-style woodblock prints his medium of choice since 1994. 

Graham Scholes (MMBC)
‘Race Rocks’ by Graham Scholes (Graham A. Scholes)

Since he began working with the woodblock prints, Scholes began gathering information and imagery of the west coast’s many lighthouses with help from the Canadian Coast Guard.

He started with the nine lighthouses along the west coast of Vancouver Island, then got to the 15 lighthouses in the inside straits from Victoria to Port Hardy, and finally the 11 that stretch from Pine Island to the Langara lighthouse on Haida Gwaii. 

Once he had the reference material he needed, Scholes said he spent “eight days a week, eight hours a day and 10 years” to complete and print the 41 lighthouse prints that make up this prolific series. 

The MMBC says that since he completed this series Scholes told them that he has slowed down a bit when it comes to art, but he will never fully retire as he believes working helps keep him young. 

 “Artists don’t retire, they draw to [a] conclusion,” Scholes said.

Curtis Blandy

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