ALL PAPER SIZES ARE 6 3/4 x 10 inches
17.2 x 25.4 cm
ALL SHEETS ARE ARCHIVALLY MATTED BUT MOST REMAIN UNFRAMED
SERIES ONE: TEN SEPARATE SHEETS
Gift of the Artist to Gary Michael Dault, author, critic, and artist, Toronto
A SERIES OF TEN (10) PENCIL SKETCHES FROM 1938 OF GEORGIAN BAY LANDSCAPES, NORTHERN ONTARIO
On his return from teaching at Manchester University Fairley found it difficult to adapt to the intensity of the colours of the Canadian landscape.
He then did a series of pencil sketches using a minimalist graphic line. These sketchbooks have become widely known as establishing Fairley's signature style of descriptive concision and linear poise.
These works exhibit an insistence on the integrity of reality, there is a refusal to add subjective flourish or any personal embellishment.
In 1957 the University of Toronto Press issued a facsimille bound set of 30 plates:
GEORGIAN BAY SKETCHES, BARKER FAIRLEY, UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO PRESS, 1957
From the PREFACE:
"THESE sketches were made at Pointe au Baril, most of them within a mile or so of the lighthouse. I had recently come back from a spell in England, eager to see my favourite landscape again and intending to paint it in oils. But I was unsuccessful; the shift from grey-green Derbyshire to the sparkle of a Georgian Bay summer was too much for me. However, I said to myself that if colour had defeated me there still was black-and- white, and soon I was poking about the islands with a sketch-book and a 5B pencil - I used India ink later - looking for subjects to draw. And quickly finding them, not so much in vistas and horizons as in close-ups and things not far away - little bays and pools, a cedar or wild cherry growing out of nothing, a moss-bed in a cup of rock. I drew steadily day after day and, as I found, with increasing economy of line. The conclusion I reached was that the less I interfered with the bare paper confronting me, the better, the truer to the Bay, the drawing would be. But there was a limit to this; if I didn't interfere at all, there would be no drawing. It became a sort of tight-rope walking between always wanting to draw and, once started, always wanting to stop before it was too late. If the present reproductions have a distinctive character, they probably owe it to this dilemma.
It didn't have to be Pinte au baril that gave me them. It might equally have been Minnecog or Squaw Island or Hangdog Channel or Henvey Inlet or anywhere else in that long, low shore-line where the unevern granite intercepts the open water."
In 1984, PENUMBRA PRESS of MOONBEAM ONTARIO published a separate previously unpublished sketchbook in reduced size facsimile of 35 plates GEORGIAN BAY, 1938, BARKER FAIRLEY.
From the Preface:
"In publishing these landscape drawings - they are all that are left in my hands - I am strongly tempted to say a word or two about them and I am yielding here to the temptation to the extent of a few sentences written as much for my own sake as to address whoever opens the book. It may seem at first glance that I am changing my approach from the one I usually follow, but this is not the case, not in the slightest degree. Long before I myself drew or painted and while I was content to remain the encourager and critic, I was alive to what I can only call a discrepancy between the subject and the medium, whether in landscape or portraiture. In all cases the subject is three-dimensional and the medium two-dimensional. We are all so accustomed to this condition that we take no notice of it. But there it is - a flat surface and a subject that is not flat. Other kinds of artists know no such problem. The sculptor takes a lump of clay - shall we say? - and modifies the lump. Quite simply. Similarly the composer can compose as he wishes within the limits of his instruments. But the painter or draftsman always has to compromise between a flat surface and a subject that is not flat. My own method has always been to accept the flatness. If I add colour to the drawing I use it flatly, no moulding or shading. Hence my pictures are all flatness, never shaded. Thus the only difference between my paintings and my drawings is that I can let the drawing do the talking by itself, not supported by paint."
NOTICE that a number of works reproduced in this volume are listed for sale in the Georgian Bay Sketches #2.
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