WELCOME to Convergence/Divergence: Landscape and Identity on the West Coast. It is our hope that artists' perspectives on this wonderful part of the world resonate with—and influence—the ways in which you experience special places in British Columbia.
Our capacity to curate an exhibition of such evocative work is directly linked to the generosity of many discerning donors who have given remarkable artworks to the University of Victoria Art Collections over the years. Whether we are exploring our holdings to illuminate the themes of landscape and identity or planning upcoming exhibitions that focus on widely differing concepts, we are constantly reminded that the origins of our collections and exhibitions rest with individuals who drew pleasure and inspiration from these works, who acquired them for diverse, complex and highly personal reasons and who entrusted them to us as a means of sharing them with students, scholars and communities.
The foundation of our collections and our museum activities was gathered together by Katharine and John Maltwood. Katharine Maltwood's passion for both fine and decorative arts and her own sculpture, watercolours and drawings come together in a bequest that has inspired numerous exhibitions and scholarly projects—and we are delighted that her gift of Windswept Trees by Emily Carr offers such a meaningful perspective on artists' integral relationships with the West Coast landscape. Her own Treetop sketches—done in and around Victoria—reflect her spiritual interest and ability to connect her own interest in theosophy with the local landscape; her sculpture Head of Canada Rising to Her Destiny references her interest in the Pre-Raphaelite aesthetic.
Critically acclaimed artworks assembled by Michael Williams further enrich the depth and quality of our collections, just as his generous legacy of heritage buildings and funding enable us to welcome you to the newly expanded Legacy Art Gallery. Williams's appreciation of the work of the most significant established and emergent artists in the Pacific Northwest created a collection that strengthens our capacity for teaching and research associated with contemporary West Coast art. Clearly Williams valued the West Coast landscape, as reflected in powerful works from his collection: Spirit Lake by Toni Onley, Upper Thetis by Glenn Howarth, View from King George Terrace by Max Maynard and Smugglers Cove by Jack Wise.
Many other pieces in this exhibition reflect donors' and artists' interest in the meaning of place. Ron MacIsaac's donation of Arthur Lismer's Faces showcases rock forms on the west coast of Vancouver Island, while Vincent Rickard's collection includes remarkable work by Floyd Joseph and Charles Elliott. Prints by Rande Cook, Qwul'thilum (Dylan Thomas) and Richard Hunt have been generously contributed to our collection by Christiane and George Smyth.
In a number of cases, artists themselves have made important contributions to our collections and to this exhibition. Notable examples include paintings, drawings and the personal archives of Avis Rasmussen; Metaphysic 6 by Rick Rivet; and wonderful portraits and landscapes by Myfanwy Pavelic.
A university art collection is very much a community initiative made possible by the common commitment of scholars, curators, donors, artists and the many publics who recognize the capacity of art to stimulate critical insights and enrich our lives. The opening of Convergence/Divergence: Landscape and Identity on the West Coast provides a fitting opportunity to express our continuing appreciation to the many people who support the University of Victoria Art Collections and who challenge us to discern the meanings inherent in artworks.
Interim Director, University of Victoria Art Collections