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past exhibitions

December 10, 1992 to January 24, 1993

The White Line: Contemporary Canadian Wood Engraving 1945 - 1990

Various Artists

A selection of 73 wood engravings by 29 artists from across Canada including Eileen Pence and Alistair Bell of BC. Organized for national tour by the Carnegie Gallery, Dundas, Ontario.

The exhibition circulated by the Glenbow Museum, Images of the Land, made many of us aware for the first time of the strong interest in the block print media between the two world wars. Most of us are not aware, however, of a recent resurgence of interest, particularly in the demanding medium of wood engraving that has taken place during the last decade or two. Canada falls behind in this respect; in Britain and the United States wood engravings are encountered much more frequently, not only on art gallery walls, but in books, on postage stamps, advertisements, even beer bottle labels. Many Canadian wood engravers are working in isolation, unknown to the public or to their colleagues. This exhibition, The White Line wood engraving tour, aims to bridge these gaps, both by drawing on the work of artists from coast to coast and by making the exhibition available to galleries across the country.

The term “contemporary” is used in this case to cover the period from 1945 to 1990, thereby focusing on the recent tradition of wood engraving and its remarkable flowering at the present time. Each of the nearly thirty artists represented have found the medium capable of developing a personal language, from the semi-abstracts of Bruno Bobak to the neo-gothic of Bruce Bradshaw, from the lyrical-decorative of Slyvia Hahn to the introspective of Jim Westergard – almost seventy-five originating in eight provinces. In spite of this diversity, there is the unifying element of the use of the burin in hard wood, each stroke producing a white line. The curator’s mandate has been to illuminate the stream of creative activity from Walter J. Phillips, H.E. Bergman and Edwin Holgate, fanning out to young engravers in all parts of the country. He has attempted to end the undeserved obscurity of wood engraving in our time.

Since no comprehensive exhibition of Canadian wood engraving has yet taken place, the exhibition and its accompanying companion book will form a useful research opportunity wherever it is shown. In the form of a complete set of slides to be deposited with the Fine Arts Department of McMaster University (Hamilton, Ontario), it will become a permanent document on this subject.

This exhibition featured artwork by:

Paul Ballard, Wesley W. Bates, Alistair Bell, H. Eric Bergman, Bruno Bobak, A. Bruce Bradshaw, Gerard Brender a Brandis, Louis Bren, Guy Debenham, Helene Dery, Bryce Erikson, Julius Griffith, Sylvia Hahn, Pauline Hooton, Hone McGregor, Barbara Howard, Alexander Husveti, Lawrence Hyde, Nancy Ruth Jackson, Rosemary Kilbourn, James Ian MacDougall, Michael Montcombroux, Craig M. Mooney, Michiel Oudemans, Eileen Pence, Walter J. Phillips, Edward Porter, Wendy Simon, James Agrell Smith, F. Stewart W. Sprague, George Walker and Jim Westergard. 

Two Rivers Gallery > Experience Art > Past Exhibitions > 1993 > The White Line: Various Artists

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