WAG Transports Visitors to Coastal Newfoundland with David Blackwood Exhibition
Winnipeg, Manitoba, March 20, 2019: In Manitoba, we know what it is to persevere against the forces of nature. On now at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG), an exhibition presents iconic renderings of another place of hostile climate and hardy people: the eastern coast of Newfoundland.
David Blackwood: Ocean + Outport is on view until Sunday, June 16, 2019. Curated by WAG Chief Curator Andrew Kear, this is the first solo exhibition at the WAG of works by Blackwood, a renowned Newfoundland-born printmaker and painter whose honours include membership in the Order of Canada.
The show is made possible by a pair of recent donations of Blackwood works, generously donated to the WAG by the E.I. du Pont Canada Company and the family of Eric Sprott.
Blackwood’s best-known works arise from memories of his 1940s boyhood in a cod-fishing and seal-hunting outport on Bonavista Bay. With imagery that is often haunting and elegiac, he recalls a way of life that preceded Newfoundland joining Confederation in 1949 and government resettlement programs uprooting communities.
The artist is famed for the mythic quality of his etchings. They convey the immensity of the dark, icy North Atlantic, the majesty of colossal whales and towering icebergs, and the tenacity of seafaring folk who endured isolation, constant hardship and tragedies such as shipwrecks and fires. Blackwood also depicts the bonds of community through ancient traditions such as mummering, in which townsfolk visited each other in disguise at Christmastime.
• David Blackwood was born in 1941 in the Newfoundland outport of Wesleyville. He attended the Ontario College of Art and now lives in Port Hope, Ont.
• His work can be found in virtually every major public gallery in Canada, as well as in public and private collections around the world, including that of Queen Elizabeth II.
• The 1976 National Film Board documentary Blackwood was nominated for an Academy Award. The 27-minute film, which can be viewed online, includes footage of Wesleyville and follows the artist through the etching and inking process as he creates a print.
• David Blackwood: Ocean + Outport includes works dating from the 1960s to the 2010s. It features more than 30 of his acclaimed etchings, as well an acrylic painting on wood.
• The show also includes a display of 19th- and early 20th-century Canadian household crockery. These sturdy domestic items from the WAG collection bring to mind down-home kitchen parties – a legendary part of Newfoundland and Labrador culture. They evoke the warmth of outport kitchens and remind us that resilient women kept the home fires burning while men were at sea.
• The WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery and houses over 27,000 artworks spanning centuries, media, and cultures, including the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art in the world.
David Blackwood is a master of hot and cold. Often setting his scenes at night, the artist routinely offsets the cool greys of the North Atlantic with a lantern’s glowing flame or a distant sun on the horizon. Blackwood’s imagery is a marriage of opposites, whether between natural elements, human beings and the harsh environment they rely on, or indeed between tradition and modernization.
—Andrew Kear, Chief Curator & Curator of Canadian Art, Winnipeg Art Gallery
Winnipeg Art Gallery - David Blackwood: Ocean + Outport
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About the Winnipeg Art Gallery
The Winnipeg Art Gallery is a cultural advocate using art to connect, inspire, and inform. Playing a dynamic role in the community, we are a place for learning, dialogue, and enjoyment through art. The WAG holds in trust the largest public collection of contemporary Inuit art on earth. To celebrate the art and to honour the Inuit, the WAG is building the Inuit Art Centre, the first of its kind in the world. Opening in 2020, the Centre will bridge Canada’s North and South through exhibitions, research, education, and art making.
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