To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the Municipality of North Cowichan on June 18, 1873, the Cowichan Valley Museum is showcasing its own and some loaned artwork of local artists, past and present. The opening of this temporary exhibit will be Thursday, June 1, at 11 a.m.
Featured artists in this month-long exhibition include James Christison, Ethel Annie Leather, John Spears and Louis Charles Springett. The exhibition at the museum features 24 artists in total.
John Christison lived in Shawnigan Lake between 1913 and 1929. His painting, When the Trout Rise, which won the $50 first prize in the 1922 Cowichan Fall Fair, is included in the exhibition.
Ethel Annie Leather (nee Simpson) arrived in the Cowichan Valley with her husband, Frank, settling in Cowichan Bay. She showed her works in the annual exhibitions of the Island Arts and Crafts Society between 1914 and 1941. Two years before her death, Ethel painted 50 original sketches on her Christmas cards. The exhibition includes a number of her paintings and one greeting card. Two paintings done by her brother, Henry Hardey Simpson are also in the exhibition.
John Spear was another pioneer to the Cowichan Valley arriving here in 1888. He regularly entered his art in the Cowichan Exhibition and the Island Arts and Craft Society shows and won a number of prizes. John also enjoyed miniature calligraphy. The Gloucestershire Echo dated July 8, 1925 described him as the world’s champion in this craft after he put 12,125 words on the back of an ordinary postcard, all done with his naked eye. That postcard is part of the collection of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC.
Louis Charles Springett arrived in the Cowichan Valley in 1901, settling first on a large farm at the north end of Somenos Lake and then in 1911 in Maple Bay. His favorite activities were boating, fishing and painting. His artwork was exhibited in the Cowichan Fall Fair from 1903-1931, in the Island Arts and Craft Society shows from 1916 to 1930 and in the Vancouver Exhibition in 1926. He never failed to win at least one first or second prize in each of these shows. His most prolific work was the depiction of game birds and the exhibition at the museum features a number of these paintings, as well as one of Maple Bay.
The Cowichan Valley Museum is currently open Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will change to its summer hours of seven days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. beginning June 15. Check out the museum’s new website at https://cvmuseum.ca/ for more information.