Tag Archives: History

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 mmilwrig@uvic.ca.


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.

Epiphany: Highlights from the Legacy Permanent Collection

Image: Maxwell Bates Circus People, 1969

Image: Maxwell Bates Circus People, 1969

May 1 – July 15 2014

Legacy Art Gallery Downtown

Curated by Mary Jo Hughes

An epiphany in its broadest sense is the experience of sudden realization or insight. Through an epiphany, our world broadens and new understandings and ideas are unlocked. Indeed, this widening of perspective remains the ultimate goal for most artists. The experience of epiphany is what the exhibition aims to engender in viewers through highlights from the extensive permanent collection held by the University of Victoria’s Legacy Art Galleries. It is intended that each piece will offer a unique insight or a fresh experience that was not entirely expected. Artists in the exhibition include, Robert Davidson, Emily Carr, Norval Morrisseau, Lawren Harris, Frederick Varley, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Myfannwy Pavelic, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jack Shadbolt, among others.

Shakespeare’s “Big Books”

Detail of a portrait of William Shakespeare

Detail of a portrait of William Shakespeare

September 21 – October 23, 2013

Legacy Small Gallery

Curated by Dr. Janelle Jensted and Dr. Erin E. Kelly

Click here to read more about the University of Victoria’s celebration of the Bard.

The Shakespeare First Folio (First Collected edition of his plays) is one of the Western world’s best-known and most iconic books. Discover why these folios have held people’s fascination through the centuries and enjoy and opportunity to see all four 17th century folios together for the first time in BC.

This exhibition was part of the Shakespeare Onstage-Offstage community celebration of the Bard. View the Shakespeare Onstage—Offstage brochure here and learn more about the events here.

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.

On Communities and Nations

Unctuous, Sean Nattras

Unctuous, Sean Nattras

April 5 – June 9, 2012

Legacy Art Gallery Downtown

Curated by Dr Carolyn Butler Palmer, Williams Legacy Chair in Modern and Contemporary Arts of the Pacific Northwest.

This exhibition examines historian Benedict Anderson’s concept of imagined communities in relationship to the emergence of First Nations printmaking practices in the late twentieth century. Ideas of community and nation have a complicated set of relationships. For some, communities are nations. For historian Benedict Anderson, nations are synthetic constructions that we come to imagine as communities through various systems of exchange that include: public meeting places and the reproduction of images and narratives. On Communities and Nations examines Anderson’s concept of imagined communities in relationship to emergence of First Nations printmaking practices in the late twentieth century.

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.

Lords and the Land: Stone in East Anglia


July 6 – September 28, 2011

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

Curated by Dr Michael F. Reed

This exhibit documents the relationship between stone and tenurial authority in the 10th and 11th centuries in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, England. Many of the objects and buildings featured in the exhibit have not been the subject of scholarly discourse for over ninety years. Only a few archeologists even know of their existance. This exhibition presents rare photographs taken from four years of extensive archaeological fieldwork in East Anglia by Micael F. Reed, PhD (York, UK, 2009).

Dr. Reed is a specialist in the material culture of early medieval northern Europe. His research and teaching is multidisciplinary, incorporating archaeological, art-historical and literary methodologies. Dr. Reed’s area of special interest is Anglo-Saxon and Anglo-Scandinavian England, particularly stone sculpture as a medium for the expression of lordship, ethnicity and eschatology.

Architecture and Power: The Legislative Buildings of Canada’s Capitals

November 3, 2010 – February 6, 2011

Legacy Art Gallery Downtown

This travelling exhibition on the legislative buildings of Canada’s fourteen capital cities presents the main characteristics of each building, such as year of construction, cost , and dimensions, and features historical footnotes about their construction. The art and architecture exhibit features historical and modern photographs. Each capital’s of government is also depicted in a contemporary painting by the Murale Création team of artists. The exhibition’s content, which aims to educate citizens and foreign visitors about the capitals of Canada’s provinces and territories, was developed by architectural historian Ms. Denyse Légaré in collaboration with Commission de la capitale nationale du Québec.

Icons of a Border: A Photographic Search for Traces in Today’s Berlin

icons of border

 February 26 – March 26, 2009

Legacy Maltwood (at Mearns Centre – McPherson Library)

This exhibit highlights the photography exploration of 36 students from the University of Paderborn, who document both the visible and invisible remnants of the Berlin Wall in modern-day Germany. Under the direction of of Prof. Dr. Barbara Becker and photographer Jürgen Spiler at the Institute for Media Science at the University of Paderborn the exhibit came to life in the course of a photo-practical seminar.

Over the years traces of the wall have become scarce as new structures have been built over the wall’s remains. Aided by historical texts and images, the students located forgotten wall fragments, abandoned watch towers and mental traces of a “wall in the mind”. The city has grown more and more together, and many locations where the Wall or the border strip used to run are now buried under buildings and no longer recognizable as what they once were.

Still, the Wall lives on, not only in places “reconditioned” for tourism, at which material remnants of the Berlin Wall can still be viewed, but also in the self-image of the city, its residents and visitors – as an icon of the Cold War, the separation of Germany, and as a symbol and commemoration of personal destinies and suffering.

Starting with historic photos documenting the building of the Wall, and texts in which the Wall finds a voice, the students attempted to ferret out the atmospheres of the past. They researched where and from what perspective these photos had been taken in order to “document” with present photos, taken from a similar perspective, what has remained of these historically significant sites. For this exhibit, these photos generated during the research for remnants of the Wall were mounted on fifteen panels and supplemented with texts authored by the students themselves. Audio recordings, meant to provide an aural background fro the visual reception, can be listened to through stereophonic headphones, permitting a virtual immersion in Berlin, still “coloured” by its past.


Encountering Islam: Collecting, Scholarship and Contemporary Visions

March 28 – May 7, 2008

Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery

Curated by Dr. Marcus Millwright and Dr. Astri Wright

This exhibition aims to provide insights into Islamic art’s long and varied history, through a selection of works from the University of Victoria Art Collections and Special Collections.

The academic study of Islamic culture represents another form of encounter. This exhibition will feature the activities of nineteenth-century British scholars and artists in India. Some of the displayed art works will demonstrate the influence of Islamic aesthetics on European art and design. Encountering Islam will also present current research now being conducted by faculty and students at the University of Victoria.

Architectonics: John Di Castri and West Coast Architectural Modernism

John Di Castri, Dunsmuir House
John Di Castri, Dunsmuir House

August 11 – November 23, 2006

Maltwood Art Museum and Gallery

Curated by Professor Martin Segger

A retrospective of John A. Di Castri’s work in celebration of his 80th birthday. Di Castri contributed designs to the Uplands neighbourhood, Dunsmuir House at Ten Mile Point, Colwood, and  the McCall Bros Funeral Directors Ltd. Building in Victoria.

The exhibition included models, sketches, and reproductions of Di Castri’s modernist architecture. The featured models were made by a University of Victoria fine art class under the supervision of architect Chris Gower.

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