Category Archives: McPherson Library

Exhibitions displayed at the McPherson Library Gallery on the main floor of the McPherson Library on UVic’s campus.

Object Biographies: Artists’ Lives through their Archives

Image: Robin Hopper, cobalt glaze tests (detail), Courtesy of University of Victoria Libraries Special Collections and University Archives

September 19 to Feb 2, 2020

Opening Launch: September 26 | 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Legacy Maltwood | at the Mearns Centre – McPherson Library

Curated by Bradley Clements with Caroline Riedel

A printing block. Glaze samples. Pouches of pigments. Why are these items in UVic’s archives, and what can they tell us about the lives, relationships, artworks and practices of the artists who owned them? Bringing together materials from UVic’s Special Collections and University Archives in partnership with the Legacy Art Galleries, Object Biographies is a glimpse into the lives of artists through their archives.

Karl Spreitz: Self-Propelled

Exhibition PosterMarch 7 – July 26, 2015

Extented to August 16, 2015

Legacy Maltwood (at the Mearns Centre – McPherson Library) 

Click here for online exhibition

Curated by Naomi Shields and Emerald Johnstone-Bedell

Self-Propelled showcases Spreitz’s wide-reaching range of photography, films, and book and magazine publications, as well as his friendships and connections to other Victoria artists.

Spreitz uses whimsy and paradoxical imagery to challenge the conventions of mundane life. This self-driven, multi-talented connoisseur developed an authentic artistic style that echoes his character and life experiences. Anti-authority satire, human mechanization, and formal compositions derive from his Austrian upbringing, athletic training, and film and photography career. This selective retrospect presents various artwork, film, photographs and ephemera documenting Spreitz’s life and cultural contributions.

Image Exhibition Poster

Digital sign final Rack Card revised date Spreitz Poster

Similar Exhibitions:

The Arts of World War I

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

Curated by Dr. Marcus Milwright (Department of Art History and Visual Studies)

View the exhibition catalogue here

This exhibition marks the centenary of the start of of the “Great War” with a cross cultural focus on the visual and material culture of World War I. The exhibition includes books, prints, and personal objects drawn from the Legacy Art Galleries, the UVic Libraries (Special Collections and Archives), and private collections in Victoria. These objects present visual manifestations of the war in the theatres of conflict in Europe and the Middle East as well as the production and consumption of art and literature in Canada between 1914 and 1918. Visitors will also see unique examples of European and Middle Eastern “trench art”, a term which refers to objects made by soldiers in times of conflict as well as those made of spent artillery shells and other military equipment by civilian artisans after the cessation of hostilities. Another central part of the exhibit is the so-called “J.M. Diary.” The curator is inviting the public to solve the mystery of who illustrated this fascinating first-hand visual account.

Help solve the History Mystery!

History mystery of Great War diary. View the diary here

A two-volume leather diary of the First World War is missing the name of its soldier diarist and the University of Victoria is hoping history buffs or family members will help solve the mystery.
J.M.’s World War I sketchbooks, signed simply “J.M.” and housed within UVic Special Collections and University Archives for more than three decades, contain approximately 130 sketches and drawings ranging from caricatures to sombre images of trench art, by a British soldier based in France and Belgium in 1917 and 1918.

“It’s a history mystery worthy of its own exhibition,” says Dr. Marcus Milwright of UVic’s Department of Art History & Visual Studies. He is the curator of the Arts of World War I exhibit which opened Nov. 7 at UVic and says he knew right away there was one item in the collections he “just had to use. But there’s only one problem: I have no idea who it actually belonged to.”

UVic has no record of where the diary came from, only that it was purchased from a private seller. UVic Libraries has been trying for some time to solve this mystery as well and is hoping the war’s centennial will spark new leads. Milwright’s theory is it was sold by a family member, possibly through an estate sale following the death of J.M.’s daughter.

“The dedication says, ‘To my daughter, Adele’,” adds Milwright. The images “look to me like book illustrations, so it’s probable J.M. was a trained painter or illustrator.”

If anyone knows anything about J.M., Adele M. or the diary, please contact Milwright at


Money, Sovereignty and Power: Paper Currency of Revolutionary Ukraine, 1917-1920

Figure 23 - Reverse copyAugust 22 – November 3, 2014

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

In the wake of the Great War, from the detritus of imperial collapse there emerged a new political order of nation-states. Amongst the newly established entities there appeared an independent, sovereign Ukraine. From the outset, Ukraine was the object of invasion and its survival was in doubt. Nevertheless, in the search for legitimacy, extraordinary efforts were made to affirm the state’s sovereign, national character. This was to be accomplished by consciously connecting with Ukraine’s historical past both to invoke precedence and to encourage a narrative of political continuity. The symbols introduced in the currency of Ukraine during this revolutionary period were examples of this process.

The goal of the Ukrainian Revolution, which aimed at national independence, was not achieved. But the legitimizing efforts increased the conditions by which society in Ukraine would become progressively aware and accepting of an identity consonant with the idea of the nation. It also infused the public’s imagination and consciousness with a sense of its own destiny. Once engaged, a national alternative became a distinct and real possibility – one, however, that would have to wait for a different time and moment to be realized.

The Long Now of Ulysses: Curating Literature after the Internet

James Joyce in "Shakespeare and Co." bookshop, Gisèle Freund, by permission of the Estate of Gisèle Freund /IMEC Images L'Institut Memoires de l'edition contemporaine, Paris. Special Collections, University of Victoria

James Joyce in “Shakespeare and Co.” bookshop, Gisèle Freund, by permission of the
Estate of Gisèle Freund /IMEC Images L’Institut Memoires de l’edition contemporaine,
Paris. Special Collections, University of Victoria

May 21 – August 12, 2013

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

Curated by Dr. Stephen Ross and Dr. Jentery Sayers

This exhibition uses James Joyce’s modernist masterpiece Ulysses to introduce visitors to the broad contexts of modernism such as the rise in celebrity culture, decolonization, and an expanding global awareness, even as it brings to light both the everyday content and the avant-garde stylistic dimensions of the novel.

This project is a collaboration between English graduate students, the Modernist Versions Project, the Maker Lab in the Humanities, and the University of Victoria Libraries and Art Collections. It draws on material from university and private collections to place Ulysses in a cultural context that extends across the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, demonstrating the novel’s – and modernism’s – ongoing relevance. Students were challenged to conceptualize text and ideas in visual media, and to think about the long and varied afterlives of key cultural artifacts – especially where they are unintended and unanticipated by the artifact’s creator.

Harmonious Interest: A Celebration of Victoria’s Chinese Heritage

Robert Amos, Untitled (Victoria's Chinatown) [detail]
Robert Amos, Untitled (Victoria’s Chinatown) [detail]

February 1 – May 13, 2013

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

Curated by Caroline Riedel and Margaret Weller

Harmonious Interest draws on the archival and artistic holdings of the university with a selection of material from the Consolidated Chinese Benevolent Association. This association, founded in 1884, is a key community anchor and advocate for the Chinese in Victoria. Other important social, religious and cultural organizations such as the Chinese Freemasons Association (1876), the Tam Kung Temple of the Yen Wo Society (1911) and the Chinese Public School (1899) are represented in photographic collages by artist Robert Amos.

The important work of Dr. David Lai (Geography, UVic), known for his role in the revitalization of the buildings of China town and the Gates of Harmonious Interest, as well as other scholarly studies on Chinese communities in British Columbia are also referenced. As a whole, this exhibition is intended to show the role of some of these key organizations in community building and advocacy for Chinese people in Canada.

This exhibition was produced as part of the Victoria Symphony’s Chinatown Celebration project.

Similar Exhibitions:

Understanding Place in Culture: Serigraphs and Transmission of Cultural Knowledge

Francis Dick, The Dragon
Francis Dick, The Dragon

October 18, 2012 – January 28, 2013

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

Curated by Shelby Richardson

The Understanding Place in Culture online catalogue is available here. It features a curatorial essay, numerous works of art and information about the artists.

Museums and other educational institutions are often seen as sites of privileged knowledge production, spaces that have often excluded minority perspectives and realities. This exhibition presents a selection of prints from the George and Christiane Smyth and Vincent Rickard Northwest Coast Print collection that focus on representations of place and Indigenous knowledge production. The perspectives represented by these artists challenge the hegemonic practices of institutions, such as museums, by positioning the artists as the ethnographic authorities on their cultural expressions and knowledge.

The University of Victoria: A Community of Communities

University of Victoria Alma Mater Society President Paul Williams leads a large group of students down Douglas Street protesting fees increase on 18 October 1965.

University of Victoria Alma Mater Society President Paul Williams leads a large group of students down Douglas Street protesting fees increase on 18 October 1965.

August 22 – October 15, 2012

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

This exhibition features a selection of historic and contemporary photographs of life at UVic over the past 50 years. Taken from Ian MacPherson’s book ‘Reaching Outward and Upward: The University of Victoria 1963-2013, this exhibit promises a vibrant look at the people, places and events that make our campus unique.

The Art of Jack Wise

Jack Wise, Mandala

Mandala, Jack Wise


June 8 – August 12, 2012

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

Curated by Nicholas Tuele

Jack Wise’s work is deeply personal and spiritually profound. Known for his calligraphy, Chinese brushwork, and mandalas, which embody Buddhist cosmology or worldview, Jack Wise was a prolific artist and popular mentor and teacher. This exhibition features a selection of stunning and memorable paintings, prints, drawings and calligraphy by Wise, who spent a considerable part of his artistic career on the west coast. Most of the selected works are part of the permanent collections of the University of Victoria Art Collections and University Archives, given to the University in 2008.

The Silent Observer



February 8 – April 2, 2012

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

Curated Andrea Routeley

He is known as the “father of Canadian photojournalism,” quietly clicking with the “eye of an artist, the concentration of a surgeon, and the reflexes of a cat.” From Trudeau’s mischievous slide down the banister on Parliament Hill, to Ben Johnson’s momentary thrill of triumph at winning the 100 meter dash, to the accusing glance of a child of the Chernobyl disaster, Ted Grant has created thousands of iconic images over the past six decades, distilling our world into single, expanding moments.  

The Silent Observer features Grant’s latest work, a continued exploration of healers, this time from the point of view of medical interns. Grant captures these young men and women in classrooms, operating rooms and rural clinics, from moments of intense concentration to playful laughter, as they journey from student to physician.

Images of Internment: Paintings by Dr. Henry Shimizu

Henry Shimizu, Painting #3
Henry Shimizu, Painting #3

November 19, 2011 – February 2, 2012

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

In 1999, Dr. Henry Shimizu created a series of oil paintings based on his life as a teenager in the New Denver Japanese Internment Camp, BC, from 1942 to 1946. Images of Internment is an attempt to highlight the activities and lifestyle of the internees in this camp; they are the memories of a teenager and his friends.

According to Shimizu, despite isolation from mainstream Canadian Society during this time, the development of young Japanese Canadians progressed in almost the same pattern as any other Canadian teenager. One would have thought that this internment experience would have embittered this group and led to widespread despair and depression. Instead, says Shimizu, they came away from the experience more determined to be successful Canadians, contrary to the intention of those who promoted and carried out this injustice of internment and exile.

The World of Mary’s Wedding: Reminiscences of WWI


October 22 – November 17, 2011

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

Click here to view the University of Victoria’s Special Collection page dedicated to WWI.

A special exhibit of WWI memorabilia from the University of Victoria Archives in conjunction with the Canadian Opera Mary’s Wedding. Robert Holliston and guests present a guided tour of the Canadian opera Mary’s Wedding followed by a reception that was held at the McPherson Library for a special viewing of the exhibit featuring special items from UVic’s Special Collections was on display.

The opera itself is a love letter to the power of memory and innocence, and to a generation of Canadians who were caught in the crucible of the First World War. It explores the fleeting nature of time and the lasting power of love, evoking Prairie thunderstorms and ladies’ tea, and, as the innocence rides off to war, the horror of the battles of Ypres and Moreuil Wood, in which Canada came of age as a nation.

A link to Pacific Opera Victoria and their production of Mary’s Wedding can be found here.