Walter Phillips was born in Lincolnshire, England in 1884. Trained at the Birmingham School of Art, he was a successful watercolour artist in England before he and his wife, Gladys, emigrated to Winnipeg in 1913. Although watercolour remained his primary medium, the wood block print was an enduring interest which brought his work to a wider audience.
Among W.J. Phillips’ best-known and loved images in watercolour and woodblock print are those which depict family holidays on Lake of the Woods from the teens until 1925. In 1940 Walter Phillips was asked to be artist in residence at the Banff School of Fine Arts. He moved to Calgary in 1941 where he taught at the provincial Institute of Technology and Art.
He died in 1963. W.J. Phillips’ works are housed in galleries across Canada including The National Gallery of Canada, The Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies as well as collections abroad in London, Washington D.C., New Jersey, Japan, and private collections the world over. The most extensive private collection of work by Phillips was gifted to the city of Winnipeg. Permanently housed in the Pavilion Gallery Museum in Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park, the Crabb collection is available for public viewing year round.
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