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John & Katharine Maltwood Collection

the Collection
History of
the Collection
John & Katharine

Notable B.C. Artists in the Collection - Introduction

In addition to sketching and absorbing the beauties of the local environment, Katharine Maltwood patronized several well-known landscape artists working in the Province. Their works, among the Maltwood art treasures, are a further indication of the artist's empathy with her new surroundings. She was especially drawn to the work of Emily Carr in its close involvement with the land and interest in the esoteric meaning of Indian art. She also came to know and appreciate the work of W. P. Weston, a painter noted for his strong and direct interpretation of the British Columbia landscape. The Maltwood Collection also contains two watercolours by Charles John Collings which, procured in London in 1918, further indicate the early date of the couple's links with Canada.

In addition to patronizing local artists the English sculptress soon became well acquainted with several very active members of the Victoria art scene. Among her closest friends were Ina Uhthoff and Hildegarde Wyllie, both of whom made a major contribution to the development of the arts in Victoria and were particularly forceful in the drive to establish a city art gallery. She shared their concern to win a more sympathetic understanding towards the visual arts and to encourage the talents of younger artists.

Together with Ina Uhthoff and Mrs. Wyllie, Katharine Maltwood supported the Island Arts and Crafts Society. They were interested in Bessie Fitz-Gerald's establishment of "The Wagon Wheel" in 1949, a fascinating craft store set up in an old barn at Prospect Lake. Three years later "The Quest for Handcrafts" was opened on Government Street in Victoria. These were the first all-Canadian handcraft shops in British Columbia. Here the pottery of Daisy Rebecca Swayne and Emily May Schofield was sold, both of whom Katharine Maltwood befriended.

The local craft stores also sold the brushwork of Elizabeth Duer, Katharine Maltwood's artist-cousin from Japan. A large number of her flower and bird studies remain among the Maltwood treasures including a series of botanical paintings recording local flora and fauna throughout the seasons, commissioned by Katharine Maltwood in 1941. Delicate and intimate, they seem to breathe the freshness of life and reveal the latter's sensitivity to the Oriental floral tradition and its ideals.

In her involvement and patronage of local artists, Katharine Maltwood was not only seeking to encourage but continuing her personal quest for beauty and truth through art. Whether in the lonely dramatic mountains of C.J. Colling's, the intense forests of Emily Carr or Elizabeth Duer's intimate contemplation of flowers and wild life, it was the artist's search for spirituality that the English sculptress admired. In this respect the artist Stella Langdale, a great friend from the days of Katharine Maltwood's London studio, came closest of all in artistic spirit to her pantheistic outlook. Both their works are preoccupied with "moods of remoteness; either the ephemeral world of myth and fantasy, the spiritual or the calm, aloof dignity of nature its more sombre and majestic manifestations."97



All content on this page is copyright © 7 February, 2006
Rosemary Brown, the Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery, and the University of Victoria

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