Walter Joseph Phillips
Winnipeg Gallery Summer Feature
Walter Joseph 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. The Phillips family spent many happy summers on Lake of the Woods, as is evidenced by the great number of Phillips watercolours and block prints of that subject.
Although watercolour was his principal medium, the wood block print was an enduring interest, which brought his work to a wider audience. He began to experiment with the colour woodcut method in Winnipeg around 1917. By 1923, he had published 42 wood block prints and traveled to England to study the medium under leading printmakers. It was his practice to translate his superb watercolour images into colour wood block prints, from which he would pull editions of 50 to 100 prints. Lucky friends and family were the recipients of the annual woodcut Christmas card, many of which became family heirlooms to be passed on to successive generations.
In 1940, 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, leaving a legacy of unique Canadian art. Walter J. Phillips is recognized today as a master of the watercolour and the wood block print medium and his work is eagerly sought after by collectors. His 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.
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