MP Murray Rankin, MLA Andrew Weaver, Oak Bay Mayor Nils Jensen and Oak Bay’s arts laureate Barbara Adams signed and sent a letter Friday in their combined bid to have the late Ted Harrison included in the National Gallery of Canada.
The push started in the Yukon – where Harrison developed his now-famous colourful style – after he died Jan. 16 in Victoria at the age of 88. Harrison moved to Oak Bay in 1993 and opened a studio on Oak Bay Avenue in 2006 where fans from near and far would come and watch him work. Not long before the studio closed in late summer 2012, Harrison moved to a residence just beyond Oak Bay boundaries.
“He was a real stalwart of our community, he lived in the community, he had a store on Oak Bay Avenue, he worked with kids in elementary schools in Oak Bay and lectured at UVic,” said Rankin.
The renowned artist was known for his colourful depictions of the Yukon – where he spent two decades – and the Pacific Northwest where he spent the past two decades.
“We talk about how he captures the spirit of life not only in the Yukon but of course in British Columbia,” Rankin said of the letter.
His favourite line of the letter to the board of trustees at the national gallery is: “There are few Victorians who have seen the Olympic Mountains glow purple after the sunset and not felt that nature was imitating a Ted Harrison painting, rather than the other way around.”
In 1987 Harrison was awarded The Order of Canada. In 2004, he was made a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, and presented with the Order of British Columbia in 2008. Harrison also donated his personal archive to the University of Victoria library in 2011.
“His unique and vibrant style is something many many of us in British Columbia and Yukon relate to,”said Rankin
“I’m just very, very honoured to be able to take this to the federal government and urge the national gallery to do so. The fact we all came together to sign this letter is an indication we all feel this way.”