Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Black Ice: David Blackwood's Prints of Newfoundland on exhibit in Victoria, BC

Fire Down on the Labrador
Etching and aquatine on wove paper
Gift of David and Anita Blackwood, Port Hope, Ontario - 1999

Newfoundland and Labrador are on my Canadian bucket list, but it doesn't look like it's going to happen in 2013. But I will be in Victoria this summer, and am looking forward to seeing the work of Newfoundlander David Blackwood, one of Canada's leading printmakers and most popular artists. Here's a short film about Blackwood from the National Film Board of Canada (1976). 

Black Ice: David Blackwood's Prints of Newfoundland is a new exhibition that opened May 3 at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Telling the story of Newfoundland's history and the people who settled there, this will be the first opportunity to view it in Western Canada. The exhibition drew large crowds at both the AGO in Toronto in 2011 and last year at The Rooms in St. John's. 

Black Ice showcases some of Blackwood's iconic works for the first time. The artist has been sharing his visual stories of Newfoundland for more than 40 years, exploring the struggle for survival between humans and nature in Newfoundland's harsh climate. 

David Blackwood's etchings are rooted in the artist's home town of Wesleyville, a small Protestant outport in Bonavista Bay on the Cape Freels Peninsula. That's where the son and grandson of fishermen discovered his love of art, both at the local library and in etchings in his family Bible. Blackwood left his hometown at in 1959 at the age of 18, heading west for Toronto and the Ontario College of Art. 

The exhibition features more than 70 prints along with letters, photographs, nautical artifacts, flags and historical maps from the artist's collection. It also provides an in-depth view of Blackwood's 1980 masterpiece, Fire Down on the Labrador (above), which includes preparatory drawings, the original etched copper plate, trial proofs and final impressions. 
Black Ice: David Blackwood's Prints of Newfoundland runs through September 8, 2013 at the AGGV. On July 4 at 7 PM is Blackwood's Visual Narrative Talk with William Gough. The novelist, screenwriter and fellow Newfoundlander will share his poetic insights about the culture and landscape that inspired David Blackwood's prints.

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