George Sawchuk – After Forty Years of Labour
March 11 – May 29 2019
Thursday – Saturday 10 – 5
“After 40 years of labour, I had compiled a great many resources that I could now draw upon, but they were all being evaporated. This I thought is not what life is all about; why live and experience a full life and allow it to be buried with you? How nice it would be if we all could leave a small part of ourselves behind. ”
…these are the words that George Sawchuk wrote in his journal, as he reflected on the emergence of his art practice. A long career as a labourer was severed through an industrial accident. It was then that George’s real work began. He moved from Vancouver to Fanny Bay where he developed a large body of artworks that spoke to his lifetime that shaped his cultural and social-political perspectives. George is well known for the interventions he installed in the Forest Gallery in the Ship’s Point forest. Less know are his portables – assemblages that incorporate the found and the handmade.
George died in 2012. In 2014, a retrospective exhibition The Book of George, at CVAG, featured the breadth of George’s art practice. Over the years since, time and nature has enfolded the Forest Gallery to the point where only traces remain.
Today, George’s portables are the works “left behind” that point to “the poetry, lyricism and understanding of his materials, the labour to secure them and the life lived”. George preferred not to sell his work during his lifetime, saying he wanted others to do that after he was gone. Pat Helps, George’s wife, has now opened the doors of the storage sheds that have housed George’s portables for decades. Shop:Made is currently featuring a small sampling of George’s art as a way of increasing awareness of an artist whose powerful work is in our midst.
At Home in the Woods – by Mary Alice, is a short film of George Sawchuk shot in Fanny Bay near the end of his life. In it he talks about his work and the life experiences that influenced his art making.